Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category.

Hear Our Strangled Voices!

Assyrians against Isis

By Abbey Mikha

Assyrians need the help of anyone who cares about innocent human beings as Christians and most importantly as Assyrians. Assyrians are on the verge of extinction off of the face of this Earth! Our population used to be in the millions in Iraq and Syria and now there are only a few hundred thousand people left because of all the killings, rapping, and destroying. Our people are being murdered in Iraq and Syria and they are suffering so very much. What is happening to them is unbelievable! In the year 2016 there is a Genocide being committed against the Assyrian people and yes even if they call themselves by other names such as Chaldean or Suryoyo, they are true descendants of the Assyrians and people of ancient Assyria.

As Canadians, Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, Natives, and any other ethnic people of the world please open your hearts to the Assyrians. Please help the families, the children, girls and boys, and our friends who have no one to turn to except us and you. Help them first by finding out more about them. Read about what ISIS has done to our homeland and our people. All of this is happening to the Assyrians and the world media barely gives any attention to the issue because we are not a powerful nation and our people are scattered all over the world and their voices are not being heard by anyone.

You have to know something about Assyrians. Assyrian Christians are a very peaceful people. They strive only for family life, education, and working very hard. They are humble people who are only looking for the hope of living a normal life. There isn’t an Assyrian family who does not strive for their sons and daughters to be teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, or at least very good human beings who would never even think of hurting anyone.

Assyrian Christians are at the end of their rope. They need your voice. They need your help. They need your compassion. Please whoever you are wherever you are from help the Assyrian Christians! Help us be able to survive in countries like Iraq and Syria where humanitarianism is a thousand mile walking journey. Help us be able to have a voice in our homeland. Stand up for us. When we are strong and something happens in your country we will also stand up for you as we are a people who never forget other peoples kindness.

Read about the Assyrians. Find out about us. Read about what is happening in Iraq and Syria. Isn’t it amazing that there are individuals in the world called Assyrians who have survived upon the earth since ancient times! But, please do not take too long to look into our issue as our people in the homeland have been shouting for help for years and months now and not many people have been willing or kind enough to listen to them.  Their voices have been strangled!  Give us a chance. Our children deserve to live. Spread the message about the suffering of the Assyrians and we shall rise up against this threat and survive and thrive into the future. Just believe in us as a people and as a nation and believe in the compassion and sympathy in our hearts for every living being, compared to the ugliness and darkness of the hearts of those who are oppressing us such us the Islamic terrorist group called ISIS and others who want to throw us out of our own ancestral homeland!

Please share this post so that we can spread this plea from Abbey to spread the message about the suffering of the Assyrians which must come to an end as soon as possible! Thank you and may God bless you.

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Remembering Assyrian Martyrs Past and Present

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By Abbey Mikha

Every day I think about the Assyrian Martyrs who were massacred in 1915 in Hakkari, Tur Abdin, and other Assyrian areas and also in Simele in 1933. I am especially thinking about these Genocides today August 7th because today is Assyrian Martyrs day.

The Seypa Genocide is a part of my identity. I am a descendant of Assyrian human beings who escaped this Genocide from Zerineh Jilu Hakkari and Mardin Tur Abdin.   This Genocide which was perpetuated against Assyrians, Armenians, and Pontic Greeks at the hands of the Turks and their cousins the Kurds, devastated our nation perhaps forever…

I really feel that today in 2015 history is repeating itself and the Assyrians are suffering again and again as they did one hundred years ago. I ask God and the universe to protect my little nation and not let us be wiped out by cruel nations who do not have any humanity and only know the love of money, power, weaponry, and backwards religious mentality.

God be with the Assyrians who are still being held hostage in Syria today and all others who have fled and are seeking  life in other countries.  God help our people and may all individuals of other cultures sympathize with the Assyrians who are literally being silently wiped out today.

I pray for each and every Assyrian. I pray for your little children, for your girls and boys. I pray for your teenagers and those who are become young adults in this difficult time. I pray for Assyrian people of all ages and especially the courageous elderly.  I pray for this nation that the human race has forgotten and ignored.

May the Spirit of the Assyrian Nation shine brightly amongst nations in these difficult days! May the love in the hearts of Assyrian children and people surround each Assyrian individual in the homeland and protect them. May this love build bridges amongst our Assyrian people and bring us closer together as one ancient Assyrian united nation.

Lastly, may the truth become evident that the Assyrian nation was always in the heart of Jesus the Christ and any nation in the heart of Jesus deserves to survive, thrive, and bloom unto eternity.

I light this candle in the name of every Assyrian, past, present, and future.  God bless you all!

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USA Stop Assyrian Christian Genocide Safe Haven For Assyrians Immediately

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Abbey Mikha

In President Barack Obama’s recent speech on authorizing air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria dated August 7th, 2014 he addressed some very important issues. He said:

“We intend to stay vigilant and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.”

Of course this is typical, but when listening to him it reminded me of the Bush administration and campaign for the war on Iraq in 2003, which was called “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” This “operation” put the government of the United States of America responsible by the principles of humanity for providing a safe haven for the indigenous people of Nineveh and Northern Iraq the Assyrian Christians and other minorities who were being even at that time mistreated and oppressed. The Christian Assyrians were being systemically terrorized and killed, their churches were being bombed, and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee the country. Their national Assyrian name was removed and their national and political rights were at the mercy of the governments in Baghdad, Kurdish government in Erbil, and the terrorists who were silencing them. For these reasons Obama’s recent chosen words proved to me what is important to him. Maybe no one ever told him but he sounded very selfish and conceited. Also it seemed like someone was pulling his ears in order not to mention the Assyrians, which is like a phobia for these people because of the sensitivities of their Kurdish leader allies who have occupied Assyrian lands.

President Barack Obama also said:

“We are also providing urgent assistance to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more affectively wage the fight against ISIL.”

This is great news for the Kurds but the fact is that the Kurdish peshmerga fighters have retreated in Assyrian Christian areas and contributed to an exodus of Assyrian Christians out of their towns and villages such as in Telkef, Qaraqosh, Karimlesh, Bartila, Batnaya, Baqoufa, Bashiqa, Bahzani, and Alqosh.

Assyrian Christians from all the various churches are dying in crowded camps in Ankawa and Erbil. These people were forced out of their homes by the vicious attacks by the Islamic State hooligans, and they do not know when they will be allowed to go home. Actually they do not even know where home is now. They are being humiliated and treated like beggars. It seems like this is the policy of the land in order to make the people leave their homeland. It seems there is an indirect relation between ISIS and the Kurdish peshmarga fighter policy. These are the groups who are benefiting from the situation of the departure of the Assyrians.

We are seeing pictures everyday of people sleeping on the streets, and in parks in the summer heat. Pregnant women, children, and the sick and elderly are sitting on dirty floors and they barely have any food to eat or water to drink. Our people are facing genocide and as you read this there is a complete extermination of Assyrian Christians being conducted from Iraq. It is a true catastrophe!

The Assyrian Christian people need a solution. Take responsibility USA stop the Assyrian Christian genocide! A Safe haven must be established for Assyrians immediately before it is too late! If President Barack Obama is only looking for American interests and this is characteristic, he must remember there is a responsibility his administration has after taking over from the Bush administration, especially in regards to the Assyrian Christian case and what happened to this people since 2003.

The Assyrians do not have a militia to fight because we are not taking part in the fight for power between Sunni, Shia, and Kurd, but we are paying the highest price because we are losing the last of the lands of Assyria.

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Is History Repeating Itself?

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By Abbey Mikha

            World War I as thought of as an Islamic jihad and or a Christian crusade is in essence very similar, but it involved diverse nations of differing historical background and from opposing regions of the world. Although the terms jihad or crusade had a religious connotation, the actual dealings, which occurred, by the Ottomans and the British were based on interests, benefits, strategy, and not necessarily religion. These religious ideas were used to rationalize war against a perceived enemy. The ordinary individual on both sides and his religious passions were sparked by these religious philosophies, which were used by their leaders to start conflict and continue it for the benefit of the heads of these empires. It is not the ordinary individual who benefited from war rather the planers and thinkers who use ordinary people to condition them to do their dirty work. History is repeating itself as ISIS is doing this today in Mosul, Iraq and other regions against the Assyrian Christians, the Indigenous people of Nineveh. It must be stated that ISIS itself is a tool in the hands of the same schemers who since 2003 until today have been terrorizing, displacing, and killing Assyrian Christians and other minorities. One must ask the question of who is benefiting from these criminal acts and then we will know who is responsible.

During World War I crusade meant a religious war and jihad meant effort or struggle. A call to jihad was made in Constantinople and another in Madina by Arabs. The leaders told the regular people that death or sacrifice for the cause would send them to paradise. In 1914 there were 270 million Muslims. 30 million governed by fellow Muslims. 100 million were British subjects. There were others in Chechnya. Those who opposed holy war were promised the fire of hell. This was to scare the ordinary religious individual. Call to jihad was translated into Persian, Urdu, Arabic, and Tartar. Jihad was also proclaimed in Afghanistan and India. In Persia there was a call for jihad by Shiites. Uganda, Congo, Sudan were also involved.   This was the most prominent instant of state sponsored jihad, for the Ottomans knew that their empire was going to be destroyed unless they made their move. Jihad was seen as a German plan to weaken Britain and her allies at the time.

Enver Pasha the Ottoman Minister of War himself wondered, “Is holy war useful?” In other words how could the Ottomans use the notion of holy war! Jihad was an attempt by the Ottomans to supposedly unite the empire. One must note that history seems to be repeating itself here again because today the Prime Minister of Turkey Tayyip Ordogan and his Turkish Foreign Minister Daoud Oglo are the main players in the fighting of a dirty war in Syria and Iraq in order to selfishly retrieve gas and oil by manipulating many Islamic jihadi groups in the region.

In regards to World War I in the Middle East and the Ottomans using the notion of holy war to unite the empire, one has to consider that there were many non-Turkish nations living under Ottoman tyranny who were also Christians such as the Assyrians, Armenians, and Greeks. If Jihad was going to strengthen the Ottoman Empire what was to become of its Christian inhabitants?

The British Empire had more Muslims living in it than the Ottoman Empire, but there was a religious crusade declared in Europe. The regular soldiers were told that the British army wanted to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom and perhaps make Jerusalem the capital of the world. Throughout the 19th century the idea of crusade was associated with an act of public good, like crusading for a cause…

The idea of crusade was not just restricted to the Middle East. Anglicans demonized Germany as anti-Christian and perhaps even pagan. This was their propaganda. Though Germany was a European country the British wanted to defeat the Germans because these peoples were of a different culture. The British tried to distance themselves from fighting a Muslim Empire but they did want to reclaim Constantinople supposedly for Christianity.

In March 1917 the British took Baghdad but the British proclaimed themselves as liberators rather than colonizers. Also, when Allenby entered Jerusalem he did so on foot rather than as a conqueror on a horse. For soldiers of the Middle East who relied on the Bible crusading was about Ottoman government not Islam. They wanted to free people from Ottoman rule not Islamic rule. Soldiers many times saw themselves as tourists. They were fascinated by Islamic culture and found this to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  A chance to see Egypt, tour the Christian Holy sights and Islamic architecture.   Most of the British soldiers were Protestants though and they did not feel a complete connection with the Christianity in the Holy Land. It was not what they expected. Perhaps here again history is repeating itself as the same sentiment can be seen in the reasoning for many if not most European, Canadian, American, and the larger English speaking community of the world today who do not feel a closeness and a need to stand up for the crimes against humanity which are being committed against the Assyrian Christians (also called Chaldeans and Syriacs) in our holdy land. We ask you on behalf of all the Assyrians suffering in the world. Open your eyes and hearts and help this ancient community, which is on the brink of extinction.

Conclusion

Religion is supposed to be about spirituality. Religion is about faith and it is for the individual not for nations to ruin the world through their understanding of religion. Faith is between you and God no one else. It was the leaders of the Ottoman and the British Empires who used the terms jihad and crusade to ignite in the ordinary individual the desire to go to war against another nation and other human beings of differing religions and cultures.

Lets give an example. Had World War I really been a Christian crusade as was thought by some of the British soldiers, the British planers and thinkers would have aided the Assyrians Christians in the Hakkari region, of what is now south east Turkey, and other regions, and not allowed them to be slaughtered and crucified by the Ottomans and Kurds just for being Assyrians of a different and more ancient culture, language, and because they were ancient Christians.

Although the Assyrians were called Britain’s smallest ally the British only used them and made false promises for a homeland for the Assyrians. They abandoned them and were not faithful to their promises. Today history is repeating itself because the Assyrian Christians are asking from the world community the establishment of their own federal region in their ancestral homeland, but the world powers are giving their lands to the Kurdish occupiers who are originally not from this land, rather from nomadic areas such as Afghanistan and Mahabad Iran. The Kurds have lived in the area less than 200 years and they are definitely not indigenous to this land.

Jihad and crusade during WWI had little to do with true religion, which is spirituality. Mahatma Gandhi who was a product of British colonization said something interesting. He said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” These words give witness to British mannerism and their colonial wars. It was not about religion or spirituality and faith, rather it was about the interests of the few at the expense of the ordinary poor individuals, human beings, and nations. Wars and conflicts are always between various sides that know each other well, and know what they want from their campaign or operation. The regular people who die, they don’t know why they are truly there and why they are dying.

Now almost a hundred years after World War I the Assyrian Christians are still suffering and being driven out of their ancestral homeland.  ISIS is a powerful gang who have taken advantage and created a strategy to gain control of an unstable Middle East. The Assyrian activists worldwide should realize that we have to be strong and diligent in speaking out about the events occuring in the homeland.  History repeats itself.  No one will give us our rights unless we ask for it and stand up for it.  It is very sad that basic human rights are not being afforded to the Assyrians Christians of the region. We need to have leaders that will work in the right direction and who wont be afraid to speak the truth and be faithful to the Sacred Assyrian Cause.

*All information from World War I in the Middle East class 2014

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My 3 Assyrian Wishes and Resolutions for 2014: a list that will shock you!

By: Ashur Sada

 

Did you notice that when it comes to our Assyrian resolutions and wishes for a new year, they almost always sound the same? Worse yet, they mostly fall short and don’t end up happening.

Let us try a different approach to our Assyrian resolutions for 2014

Let us try a different approach to our Assyrian resolutions for 2014

For 2014, I have decided to make the list and its wording a bit different this time, injecting some humor and sarcasm into it and looking at things from a different angle. Maybe, just maybe, this approach will be more effective this time. It is time we used an ‘outside the box’ type of mentality for our difficult and eternal problems.

 

1-Let there be no peace in Iraq, Syria and the rest of the Middle East

Yes, you heard that right. Let us use some reverse psychology. Maybe it will work this time. Better yet, let those who want no peace to keep doing what they are doing, as long as they don’t harm our peaceful people back home. Leave them alone and go on your destructive bombing and killing spree. And leave other innocent people alone too, whether they are our people or not.  Eventually, you will tire of your evil ways and quit. Why not just quit now?

 

2-May Assyrians remain divided

We have been asking for unity for years and decades now. Have we achieved it yet? while we have made some progress, we are far from a perfect or ideal unity yet. For this year, my resolution is for us to stay divided as people and political parties. As long as we can get things done. Really, think about it: if we are still effective without having to get united, let there be no unity.  In organizational behavior literature, we are told that certain individuals perform better on their own than to work within or with a group. How about we started applying that model to Assyrians? Let us give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that Assyrians work more effectively disjointed and individually rather than in groups?

 

3-For Assyrians to continue moving away from knowledge and education

There has been a bad trend amongst Assyrians here in Canada: getting less and less education. Those with a college or university education are becoming extinct. I am not sure about other countries but at least that applies here. And my wish for 2014 is for this trend to continue: more and more Assyrians getting less education and knowledge. Let them waste their valuable time on Facebook, sipping coffee at public places and so on. If that is what they want to do with their free time, who am I to judge and ask them to do something valuable instead? We know that humans instinctively and naturally like to do what is best for themselves. So maybe, just maybe, some Assyrians are made to only work and have fun. Education is just not their thing. And while education is of paramount and extreme importance in our society today, some uneducated Assyrians-and other billionaires-have done much better with their lives and careers than the best educated amongst us.

 

I have more Assyrians’ related resolutions, hopes and wishes for 2014. But I will keep it to this short list. But you get the idea here. It is time we tried and did things differently. It hasn’t worked for us doing things the old-fashioned way.  It wouldn’t hurt to do things differently. After all, what have we got to lose? Think of this as one giant lab, doing different experiments and comparing the results to see what methodology works best.

Let the experimentation on these 2014 resolutions start…

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Time for Assyrians to show that their ancestors created the first library

By: Ashur Sada

I have often preached on Assyrians Voice that Assyrians should always support their music and singers. One way to do so is to buy

Assyrians should support their authors just like they support their musicians.

Assyrians should support their authors just like they support their musicians.

their albums as much as possible.

It is time I start preaching the same thing about Assyrian books and authors. Considering that the great Assyrian king Ashurbanipal  is credited for creating the first library in history, it is only fitting that Assyrians of today would be interested in reading. Right? But is that the case? Are Assyrians of today fond of reading? How many books does the average Assyrian read per year? 3? 2? 1? Maybe less than that? I don’t personally know but I do know one thing: Assyrians need to do more reading. I don’t need to sit here and tell you the reasons why reading is a good thing. But in our case, there are two main reasons.

 

Knowledge is Power

Ever heard of this phrase before? I am sure and hope you have. And it is as accurate as it can ever be in our day today. Assyrians have suffered a lot in the last 100 years or more. And you can even argue that no education could have saved us from what we went through. And that is true to a large degree. But you could also argue that knowledge could reverse some of these losses and give us a better future.  Based on my personal and local observations, it doesn’t look like recent Assyrians settling here in Canada are getting any significant education. In fact, even high school is no longer an attainable option for a lot of them.  I won’t delve into the reasons as to why we have an increasing population with an ever decreasing education.  If school and academia is not an option or of interest to them, they can resort to reading books and picking more knowledge that can benefit them in the long run. Be it books about Assyrian history or any other topic, reading books is fun and very mentally-rewarding. And did I mention knowledge is power?

 

Supporting Assyrian authors

We often talk about the need for Assyrians to support their singers and musicians by buying their albums. It is time we preached the same thing for Assyrian authors. We need to support them by buying their books. Sure, we have a lot fewer authors than we do singers, but supporting them them will ensure they will keep writing and enriching our literature, culture and language.  We also have to remember that the more Assyrian authors and writers we have, the better chance we have at writing our own history and identity. This in turn prevents others from doing it for us, often doing it to serve their own agendas.   Our own Assyrian authors should be the ones to define the Assyrian identity, talk about all the Assyrian genocides and its countless victims, the great Assyrian empire and its contributions to civilization, and more.  As you can see, there is a lot at stake and it’s absolutely vital that we have our own capable writers who will tell things like they actually happened and are.  We can’t be lazy and complacent and let others write and manipulate it for us.

It doesn’t take much to start a new generation of educated and intellectually-enlightened Assyrians. It starts by spending more time on reading and maybe less time on other non-productive activities. And it is important that we start with Assyrian books and then expand our discovery.  Once you start reading, you will not want to stop.

If you are really proud of your ancestors, then at least show it by dedicating more time to reading, something your forefather Ashurbanipal would be very proud of!

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Assyrian parents: 10 things you should teach and tell your kids about

By: Ashur Sada

As an Assyrian parent with kids growing up in the west-or even in the homeland-your job is a little tougher. You not only have toTop 10 things Assyrian parents should teach and tell their kids about! help your kids grow like other parents, you also have a national and patriotic duty to ensure your kids are raised like true Assyrians and don’t forget who they are. To help you with the process, here is a list of 10 things you should teach and tell your kids about, starting as early as at a toddler’s age.

1-Assyrians have an amazing history, but….

Sure, it is an disputable fact that Assyrians have an amazing history and one of the greatest empires but the present and future is what matters the most. If every new born Assyrian , of the last 100 years, focused on the future instead of the past, we would be in a much better shape and state now. Tip: help him or her use the past to inspire them for the present and future. His ancestors were great and he can be like them too.

2-Family and social values matter a lot

As an Assyrian, family and social values matter a lot.  Regardless of where you are living and amongst what other cultures or religions.  While this doesn’t mean you can’t adopt to other cultures, it is important to teach them that the one family unit is very crucial to the Assyrian society. We value our parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, in-laws, friends etc. In fact, family, cousins and relatives are so important to Assyrians, we have a word for each one of them (yes, there is even a word for ‘the husband of my sister in law!) Tip: teach them that family closeness and social values to Assyrians is one of those things that has helped them survive.

3- Getting an education is a matter of survival

Due to the fact that Assyrians have often been forced out of their homes and lands, getting a proper education hasn’t always been easy for our parents and grandparents. That shouldn’t be the case for your kids. Teach them the huge and vast importance of getting a proper education.  Tip: make it clear to them that getting an education will not only help them have a better life, it will also help their family and nation at the end.

4-Sunday morning is reserved for church and the lord

Ok, this one may not be an easy one but that is OK, it doesn’t have to be every Sunday if you are unable to make it on a weekly basis, for whatever reason. But at the very least, they have to grow up being at church on a regular basis. This includes ‘Sunday school’ . I don’t think I need to tell you why this is important, but proper discipline, faith, community gathering, bible teaching, growing a church, are just to name a few of the reasons why your kids should grow up to be regular church attendees. Tip: you don’t have to force them. Just make the effort to go yourself and they will come. And don’t forget to teach them about Assyrian Christianity and the history and timeline of the Assyrian church (and other eastern churches) which date back to the time of Christ.

5-Assyrian is your first and native language

Not only is the Assyrian language (AKA Syriac) your first language, it is your native language and you have to be proud of it.  Your kids are to learn it before they even learn to walk or put ‘1 + 1’ together.  In fact, the stage from 2 to 7 years old is very critical in language learning and development. This is where your hard work should be. Tip: learning Assyrian will help them in so many aspects and actually make them look cooler and more interesting to others.  After all, they are learning a language that Jesus Christ spoke.

6- Approach our enemies and foes with wisdom not anger

Assyrians have had a lot of enemies and foes in the last few hundred years.  Whether it is the Kurds, Ottomans, Islamists or other groups, our enemies have done a lot of harm to us.  Despite all of this,  our revenge should not be through violence. Violence and armed struggles may have been the preferred method in the past but in today’s ever changing dynamics in the middle east, we should defend ourselves with more than just arms and weapons. Unity should be our first defense, followed by education and money. If we have those three elements (Unity, Education and Money) the rest will take care of itself.  It is indisputable that we haven’t been very successful with these 3 in the last few decades.

7-Love all Assyrians, regardless of church , village or tribe

It can be very confusing even for the most educated Assyrians, now imagine our poor kids and what they have to go through to learn about all the different Assyrian names, identities, churches, tribes, language references, villages and so much more. You can simplify it to them and teach them that we are all one, despite all the different identity terms. If the name ‘Assyrian’ is not accepted by certain people and groups, that is fine. They are still our brothers and sisters and have to love them and be united with all of them.

8-Birthplace or ethnicity first?

Since Assyrians don’t have a country to call their own, those born in other countries (USA, Canada, Australia etc.) may struggle with the question of first loyalty: should they put their birthplace first or their ethnic identity? You can put your birthplace before your nation but don’t ever forget or deny your Assyrian identity and culture. I would rather have my kids put their birthplace before their Assyrian identity than to have them forget their Assyrian identity completely.  Moreover, being born in their respective countries, they have to appreciate the land they are living in and is providing them with food, shelter, security etc. The least they can do is to give their loyalty to their country, which is better than, say, those immigrants from third world countries, who make it to North America or Europe, and and end up turning against their new country (through terrorism and other illegal activities)

9- Honour your culture!

One of the most important things you can teach them is to be part of their community. By doing this, they get more acquainted with their culture and language.   They can do stuff on their own but they also have to dedicate time to be part of the community and other cultural activities. This could be in the form of a lecture, a picnic, community events etc. Doing this early on will ensure that it becomes a part of them and will do it when they are adults without you having to tell them anymore. Tip: it is important to start early!

10-Assyrianism must live on

Last but not least, Assyrianism must go on and never die. Not just in history books but as people, language, culture and maybe even a country again one day.  Assyria has survived beyond the fall of the empire and despite all the threats, for thousands of years now. The least your kids can do is to to ensure the beat of this nation goes on. In fact, this is an almost sacred duty for us to carry on, thanks to the various quotes in the bible about Assyria and its future :

“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day, Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19: 23-25)”
 
 

-Got any tips you would like to share with us? let us know in the comments section below or email us: assyrianvoice@rogers.com

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Peter Sellers an Example of Borderline Personality Disorder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Abbey Mikha

Mental illness is a very taboo subject in the Assyrian community and always has been even in the days when our great grandparents lived in towns and villages. How many Assyrians have been diagnosed with mental illness in the past ten years in the homeland and outside of the homeland?  Does war, depression, trauma, and pain increase mental illness?  Is mental illness on the rise in our community?  In university my majors were Psychology, History, and to a lesser extent Philosophy.  Since studying Psychology at this level I found the various kinds of mental illnesses to be very interesting especially after reading that the Essenes and Jesus Christ of Nazareth were known to cure mental illness in the days when He was a Healer on earth.  It is even said in the Bible that Jesus cured Mary Magdalene of seven various illnesses some of which were mental illnesses.

There are many interesting mental disorders but the most thought provoking to me are the various kinds of bipolar, schizophrenia, and antisocial personality disorder.  Two disorders, which I also studied in university, were borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.  I came across these disorders in various classes such as Abnormal Behavior and others.  In this specific class we had to study the personality of someone many of you may have heard of.  Peter Sellers was a very interesting person who was among other things an actor and the star of the Pink Panther movie.  He was rich and famous, but the amazing mechanism which we call brain, by which his psyche manifested, in many ways made him act out in ways which, had he been rational and stable, he probably would have never done so.  Interestingly the etymology of “Psyche” in ancient Greek was among other things “self” and “conscious personality.”   A question to the Greeks and psychologists and psychiatrists out there from Abbey is, “What would you call someone who is acting out of their subconscious mind?”

I want to dedicate this post to all Assyrians and people of our nation who have suffered from mental illness especially those who suffer from borderline personality disorder and features of narcissistic personality disorder like Peter Sellers.  When I say Assyrians I mean all of our people regardless of whether they belong to the Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, or Aramean churches.  Mental illness does not discriminate based on ethnicity.  A percentage of people in our various name groups are affected.

It is a shame that there are supposed religious people in our communities who teach that people with mental disorders are beyond repair, lost souls who have behaved badly in their life.  This is untrue as evidenced by actual Science!  Also, regular people are many times afraid of individuals with various mental illnesses.  Statistics show though that most people with mental illness are more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else.

I also want to dedicate this post to my uncle Salem Mikha who lived in Iraq and was a member of the Chaldean church who had mental illness and was presumed dead during the past years during the war on Iraq although his body was never found.  God rest his soul and God help the souls of all those poor helpless people in Iraq who suffer from mental illness and are living with it as best as they can, and those who have passed away and struggled throughout their life without the help of psychiatrists, psychologists, and medication.

If you know anyone who is acting out or just very depressed or in a psychosis of any sort please be kind and help them get in touch with a psychiatrist or anyone else in the community who can help.  As Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Note: The following diagnosis was created by analysis of the biographical movie, “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” 2004.  It was for a specific assignment for the class called Abnormal Behavior.  The professor said we did not have to use quotation marks in regards to the DSM-IV-TR criterions.  This diagnosis is a good introduction for anyone interested in mental illness and in borderline disorder, which goes undiagnosed as a lot as people cannot figure out what is going on in their life, which seems like a rollercoaster ride.

An Example of Borderline Personality Disorder- Mr. Peter Sellers

Identifying Information For Mr. Peter Sellers

The client Mr. Peter Sellers is a Caucasian British national who is 48 years old and currently employed as an actor.  Peter is of a high economic status and has lived in upscale neighborhoods.  He was married to Anne with whom he has two children.  Their marriage ended in divorce.  He also married Britt Ekland with whom he has a daughter.  Their marriage also ended in divorce.  Peter smoked marijuana, drank alcohol, and used cocaine on a regular basis.  He is currently single.  Although previously very affluent, he is now lacking in funds and thinking about taking part in the next Pink Panther movie. The main reason for this is that he wants to maintain his standard of living.  The producers at United Artists have requested that Peter undergo a psychological assessment because the director Mr. Blake Edwards is reluctant to work with Peter again.  Peter has reluctantly agreed to comply.

 

Behavioral Observations

Peter presents himself as a wealthy individual with above average intellectual ability, yet he is childlike and very much a jokester.  Upon meeting him Peter is well dressed, talkative, and wanting to exchange ideas.  After some discussion he opens up about his difficulties.  Peter appears to lack self-confidence and he does not keep eye contact continuously.  He expressed that he had been told by his wives that he has not been receptive to his children’s emotional needs.  He says that he tries to provide as best as he can, including things like a pony and a motorcycle for his children.  He also feels guilty that he could not tell his mother that he loved her when she explained to him that she was dying in the hospital.  Nonetheless, he says that he sobbed at her funeral.  Peter appears to be an extremely creative and intelligent person but he is also contradictory in many ways.   He recently has watched old videos of his time at the old comedy show, times with his mother and father, and his two wives Anne and Britt and their children.  Although he had positive and negative memories he says that he does not necessarily treasure them.  After thinking it through Peter burned all of these pictures and videos.

Current Circumstances

Peter was referred for a psychological assessment because he appears to be acting out and the producers at United Artists are worried about his mental health.  Peter fell in love with Sofia Loren who was a fellow actress.  He idealized her as a human being and a friend, and he wanted to be with her, although they were both still married. He misunderstood his relationship with Sofia Loren.  Peter tried to approach her for a relationship, but she told him, “Go home to your children, and go home to your wife.”  Her dismissal caused in him a great deal of pain and anxiety.

Other stressful events in Peter’s life are that his father and mother have both passed away.  He is haunted by the image and words of his mother.  He had a stressful relationship with his second wife Britt.  He wanted her to have an abortion but she persuaded him to keep their child.  He has also had a near death experience and this has changed his outlook on life.  He is tired of all the characters and roles.  He has come to the realization that he wants to be himself even in the movies, although he realizes this is impossible.  Peter displays great instability, including major shifts in mood, a very unstable self-image, and impulsivity. His interpersonal relationships are also very unstable. Furthermore, Peter is grandiose, needs much admiration, and at times appears to feel no empathy with others.  Peter is an amazingly intelligent person who is also very talented at making people laugh, but his chronic feelings of emptiness have deprived him of his own happiness.

Background Information

In Peter’s childhood his family moved around a lot.  His father wished he had more influence on Peter and hoped to have raised him differently.  Peter’s mom spoiled him and allowed him to have whatever he wanted.  At the beginning of his career Peter had a role in the Goon Show, which was a radio comedy show.  He became an actor after he persistently tried to get movie roles.  Peter is very proud of having received a British Academy Award. He loves taking on characters and becoming them for films, but sometimes this carries over to real life.  He encompasses the characters very well.  These personas fulfill in him the need to be someone.  He believes himself to be without much personality of his own.  At one point he was passionate and wanted to play the part of a man who has no discernable personality.  He felt a kinship with that kind of a character.

Peter appears to be hard working and he takes care of his family’s material needs.  After his first marriage to Anne ended he started dating Britt Ekland.  He told her soon after their first few dates, “I think I’m in love with you” to which she responded, “But you have just met me.”  At first he idealized Britt as he had done with Sofia Loren.   When Peter was not able to be with Sofia Loren he tried to satisfy his desire for her by having sex with her stand in, in the back seat of his car, although he was still married. Peter also used cocaine while having sex with his second wife Britt.  During one of these ventures Peter had a heart attack and almost died.  He told his children after his near death experience, “The Spirits have spoken daddy has come back from the dead…and nothing can hurt him ever again.”

Generally when Peter was upset he visited his mother.  He confided in her when Anne left him that he thought if he just gave the world a little push it would all fall in to place.  Peter got mad at his mother for not telling him his father was not well and in the hospital.  Peter’s mother acted like she was his protector.  She said things to him like that the press notices when he misses his daughter’s birthday.  Peter recalled his mother telling him that when they went out to dinner someone asked her, “How was lunch with your son,” and she said, “I don’t know I did not see him.”  He clings to his first wife more than to his second wife at his mother’s funeral.  Peter had an out of the ordinary relationship with his mother.  He goes to a therapist who hypnotizes him in order to be able to speak to his mother once again after her death.

Clinical Conceptualization

Peter appears to be suffering from borderline personality disorder.  The following five criteria from the DSM-IV-TR further explain this.  Peter shows symptoms of criteria three in the DSM-IV-TR, which states that, for borderline personality disorder to be diagnosed there must be an identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self present.   This is evident in various aspects of Peter’s life.  He voiced his concern about his unstable self-image when he told of the time he was once asked, “Peter, how are you able to inhabit your characters so successfully,” to which he responded, “I don’t really have any personality of my own… there used to be a me behind the mask but I had it surgically removed…If I didn’t have characters like Clussou I don’t know who I’d be, perhaps I’d be you.” Furthermore, at one point Peter’s children are trying to cheer him up and he expresses to them that, “Your dad does not exist.”

Criterion two in the DSM-IV-TR for borderline personality disorder, which appears to be present in Peter’s personality states: A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.  Peter’s interpersonal relationships are intense, as is evident in his relationships with his first wife Anne, Sofia Loren, and Britt Ekland.  He idealized them all.  Concerning his first wife Anne, he was deeply in love with her for many years until he met Sofia Loren, and suddenly decided that he did not love Anne as much. In Britt’s case he idealizes her at the beginning of the relationship but after devalues her to the point where he hit her and pushed her around after his mother’s funeral.

Criterion eight in the DSM-IV-TR for borderline personality disorder states: a person with this illness has inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger.  For example frequent displays of temper, constant anger, and recurrent physical fights.  An example of this anger is when Peter destroyed his young son’s toys because he painted a striped line across his brand new car.  Peter averted to physical aggression and violence against his sons toys when the boy was only trying to make his father happy.   He also destroyed his house after he realized that his wife Anne was sleeping with the interior decorator.  Furthermore, after his mother’s funeral his anger was unleashed at his wife Britt and they also got into a physical fight.

Criterion seven of the DSM-IV-TR for borderline personality disorder states that there must be symptoms of chronic feelings of emptiness present. For example at one point Peter said to his daughter Sara that he is, “A useless, talentless, empty man.”  Peter also confided to a psychic about this emptiness.  He said, “I keep making changes, you know, big ones, and little ones; always hoping that the next one will be the right one…nothing makes me happy the way that I’m supposed to be happy.”

Lastly, criterion four of the DSM-IV-TR for borderline personality disorder, which states that impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging, for example: spending, sex, substance abuse, and reckless driving.  These are all evident in Peter’s life.  For example, Peter was always changing homes from one mansion to another.  He splurged on various types of cars and had other types of spending sprees.  Peter tells of the times he raced down the highway with his boss trying to escape his responsibilities to the movie he was filming. Peter also misused alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine.   Moreover, he also had sex with Sofia Loren’s double in the back seat of his car while he was still married to his first wife Anne.

The etiology for borderline personality disorder is that like most personality disorders, there are interrelated issues that may contribute to the progression of symptoms.  A fear of abandonment tortures Peter, psychodynamic theorists look to early parental relationships to explain this.  Object-relations theorists propose a lack of early acceptance or abuse/neglect by parents.  Research has found some support for this view, including a link to early sexual abuse.  This may be indicative of the unconventional relationship Peter had with his mother Peg.  He even mockingly expressed to his mother at one point that he was going to marry his then girlfriend Britt because he was not allowed to marry his mother.  The Symptoms of borderline personality disorder may continue on for the remainder of Peter’s life.  Some features of the disorder have also been linked to biological abnormalities.  Sufferers who are particularly impulsive apparently have lower brain serotonin activity.

Clinical Conceptualization

Peter also appears to have some narcissistic features.  The DSM-IV-TR states in criterion six that a person with narcissistic personality disorder is interpersonally exploitative.    For example, when Peter took Anne to meet the interior decorator, he was fully aware that the man was handsome and Anne might be attracted to him.  He set this situation up because he wanted to start a relationship with Sofia Loren.  So, he was introducing Anne to another man because he had ulterior motives.  He told the interior decorator, “Whatever is fine with Anne is fine with me”, which was suggestive.   A further example of criterion six is that Peter remembered someone saying that he, “Always got the last cake even on someone else’s plate.”

In the DSM-IV-TR it further states in criterion one, of narcissistic disorder, another characteristic of Peter’s personality, which is that he has a grandiose sense of self-importance.  For example, he exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.  An example of this is when Peter said to his mother, “I’m a star now; these people can’t do anything without me.”  Peter also remembered saying in front of a crowd of people that the only reason he, “Compromised his artistic integrity by walking in front of his cameras” (referring to Blake Edwards the producer of the movie Pink Panther) was because of money. He embarrassed Blake in front of the crowd and inflated his own ego.  Peter also said that no matter how bad the picture is he will always be the best thing in it.

Moreover, Peter is seldom interested in the feelings of others in this innocent way; he does not realize this about himself.  The DSM-IV-TR for narcissistic disorder criteria seven matches with Peter’s personality where it states:  He lacks empathy and is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.  This is very evident in his interactions with his children.  Peter’s daughter asked him if he still loves them, to which he responded, “Of course I do sweetheart, but not as much as I love Sofia Loren.” He does not seem to understand what he is saying.  He also inappropriately tells his son at one point that his mother is sleeping with the interior decorator.  If he was considerate of his children’s feelings he would not have said such things, but Peter did not even realize how much these words could have hurt them.  On the other hand, Peter does show empathy for his dying father on his deathbed.

The DSM-IV-TR criteria nine for narcissistic disorder is also evident in Peter’s personality.  It states that the person shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.  An example is when Peter says to his pregnant wife at the hospital while she’s having contractions, “Make it quick we start filming in a week.”  Another example is when Peter overreacts about taking a role another actor declined.  He does not want “sloppy seconds.”  Other times he gets mad at the director and yells at him.

The etiology of narcissistic personality disorder like most personality disorders is that there are many interrelated reasons that may influence the development of symptoms.  Symptoms are long lasting, and start to show in childhood and later in adolescence.  The full symptoms show themselves when the individual becomes an adult.  Psychodynamic theorists have theorized about this disorder focusing on cold, rejecting parents.  Object-relations theorist interpret this grandiose self-presentation as a way for people with this disorder to convince themselves that they are self-sufficient and without need of warm relationships. Cognitive-behavioral theorists propose that narcissistic personality disorder may develop when people are treated too positively rather than too negatively in early life.  Peter appears to have features of narcissistic disorder and is projecting this type of characteristics for protection of his equilibrium.  His disappointments, the pain that he felt as a result of the relationships with his parents, the failed marriages and friendships, and the harshness of the reality of life are being projected as narcissism.

Formulation

Axis I:  Deferred.

Axis II:  Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic features.

Axis III:  Heart condition.

Axis IV: Problems with primary family.

Axis V:  GAF score of 70.

There is evidence of borderline personality disorder present in Peter’s behavior, and features of narcissistic disorder.  The GAF score is 70 because there is some mild symptoms present like depressed mood.  There is evidence of some difficulty in social, occupational functioning, but Peter is generally functioning well, and has had some meaningful interpersonal relationships.  In the DSM-IV-TR criteria three, eight, two, and seven have been met for diagnoses of Mr. Peter Sellers as having borderline personality disorder.  In the DSM-IV-TR criteria six, one, seven, and nine have been met for narcissistic personality disorder, which therefore suggests that Mr. Peter Sellers has features of this disorder.  Disorders to be ruled out are multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia.  Peter does not appear to have different personalities; he is more just an actor who takes on different roles, as opposed to being different people in real life and having certain personalities take over at different times.  He also is not delusional nor does he hallucinate, which would rule out schizophrenia.

Further information to strengthen the conclusions of the primary diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is that Peter had that great fear of abandonment, and psychodynamic theorists look to early parental relationships to explain this and the disorder.  Peter always tried to fall in love and be with someone he cared about, or just randomly date, as long as he was not alone.  When things did not work out with the women he found comfort in the arms of his mother, but as of late even the thought of his mother is not comforting to him, and the stress of being an actor has reached an ultimate high level.

Treatment Recommendations

Psychotherapy can be very helpful in Peter’s case when used in combination with medication.  The most helpful forms of psychotherapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy and two broader sociocultural therapies: family therapy and social therapy.  For borderline personality disorder it appears that psychotherapy can eventually lead to some degree of improvement for Peter.  Antidepressant, antianxiety, and antipsychotic drugs have helped some individuals to calm their emotional and aggressive storms.  Narcissistic disorder is one of the most difficult personality patterns to treat, and since Peter has features of this disorder, once in treatment, he may try to manipulate the therapist into supporting his sense of superiority.

In regards to Mr. Peter Seller’s assessment, it must be said that it is unfortunate to think that the directors Peter worked with were not sensitive to his personality and condition.  Perhaps they did not realize that Peter suffers from mental illness.  Peter’s talent for being able to express himself through various characters is a gift but should not be misused.  Peter complained to one director that, “Three characters are enough!”  He said three is a good number, but the director responded, “You are being paid for four.”  This director also said to Peter, “I think you are whoever I want you to be.”  People in show business should be kind and gentle with people like Mr. Peter Sellers.  They said that Peter was, “A vessel in which characters and personalities ran like phantoms.”  The director also said about Peter that, “There was no person there to begin with but even an empty vessel can become too full.”  Sometimes Peter was not treated with humanity and he was you could say even abused by these people.  The reality though is that Peter subjugated himself as well to continue living in his life style.   I would recommend that firstly Peter receive treatment for his drug and alcohol addictions.  I also would only recommend that Peter continue working in show business if he is allowed to find himself and be whoever he wants to be.  The directors of his next movie should understand what Peter has been dealing with all along.  If they do not want to understand him then they do not deserve to work with him.

Note: How many Assyrian Peters are out there and are undiagnosed and living their life in a supposed normal way without realizing that borderline personality disorder is devastating their lives?  How many fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends?  How many have never even heard of borderline disorder?  Hopefully this analysis of Mr. Peter Seller’s life and personality was a good introduction for any of you who are interested in the subject.  Please take the time to read more about this issue if you find it of interest and if you have similar symptoms.

 

 

 

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Abbey’s Defense of the Maharashtra Region in India and all Poor Farmers of the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Use for Degraded Lands in Western India Project

Think of the following essay in relation to our homeland.  We have water shortage in Iraq as well and in all our villages, like for example in Bartella.  Our Assyrian people need help as the people of India also need help.  We are an ancient people just like the Indus Valley people.  What is happening in India is happening all over the world.  Take fifteen minutes of your time to read through this report.  Our friendship as Assyrians with peoples of the entire earth is a testament to our humanitarian spirit as a nation.  Let me know what you think.

By Abbey Mikha

Summary

Changing the ideas of modernized people of the earth in relation to poor peoples of other nations has to be part of an education process for modernized people in regards to human and humanitarian issues. Abolition of rural poverty should be an extremely important concern for all persons and nations. We need to help peoples of the Third World! In our project area in the Maharashtra region in India there live a simple ancient people who have not been influenced a great deal by the progress other regions of the world have seen. Though they may be poor they certainly have people of intelligence and wisdom. Our team wants to help improve the situation of the people who are trying to survive on a seasonal basis. We have to aid in the development of farmers who can serve as future leaders in the field of agriculture. Also, we realize that water is the source of life. We want to provide help and opportunities for creative people and even inventors to influence the future of their land and villages by implementing ancient wisdom combined with modern knowledge on water harvesting techniques to cure the ecological degradation in the area. We have researched the opinions of various individuals and experts on the three approaches to land use under consideration. In our research it was our hope to find the best solution for the peoples of the Maharashtra region of India. Although it would be amazing if we could make each person in our project area rich, a more realistic solution is to provide practical advice and support in order to influence their life, so that their living conditions can improve and they will have hope and joy not just for a moment but for a lifetime.

Structuring the Problem definition

Trying to help people of other cultures is every good human beings hope regardless of which culture they are from, but there are problems to achieving those goals and dreams, most of which are financial. In the following research project and report the opinions of various individuals and experts on the three approaches to land use under consideration will be evaluated. The opinions of individuals who are actually from India like Dr. Narayana Shenoy, Greeta Nair, K.G. Kshirsagar, and Madhav Gadgil have been considered. Additionally, the views of Kevin Conway and Thomas Rosin have been presented. We also referred to Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd report called, “Modern Irrigation and Fertigation Methodologies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane.” We are of the opinion that considering a variety of views will lead us to more accurate conclusions.

It is rather confusing to think that poor peoples of the world could not want help from those who are modernized, but the fact is that people are afraid of change. The peoples who wholeheartedly want to help are often times received in a suspicious manner by the villagers in the Maharashtra region. Accepting help from those who are strangers to the ancient land of the Indus Valley is a choice and cannot be provided by force.

The ancient water harvesting techniques that the people have used for generations must be developed and combined with modern techniques to improve the livelihood of the people. To take for granted this ancient wisdom of water harvesting would be a testament to our ignorance. Therefore, we will do our utmost to appreciate this knowledge, which springs from a distant time and even an eternal source.

Background Information

In his report titled, “Conjunctive use of water resources in the Decan Trap, India” Dr. Frank Simpson gives a detailed explanation of the area of Akole Taluka which is very similar to our project area located on the eastern flanks of the Western Ghats mountain range. He says:

“Akole Taluka is located on the eastern margin of the Western Ghats mountain range in the westernmost part of Ahmednagar District, Maharashtra State, India. This area is comprised of uplands to the west and south, which give way to rolling and relatively even topography, at lower elevations to the east. The taluka is part of the Deccan Trap plateau, where generally flat lying basalt lavas make up the bedrock beneath a variable cover of weathered basalt and soil. In these respects, it is similar to much of the Deccan region, which covers an area of 500, 000 km2 in western and central India. Superficial deposits are thin to absent at higher elevations and up to 2 m or more in thickness in the valleys. The annual rainfall, which ranges from 600 to 2,000 mm across the taluka, is largely confined to the monsoon period, from June to September. July is the wettest month. Typically, there are sporadic showers during the post-monsoon period (October–January) and little or no rain in the pre- monsoon months (February–May). Before the onset of the monsoon, temperatures in the 40–50°C range are common.”

The tribal and rural people are subsistence farmers. Their main crops are rice, groundnuts, ragi and local grass during the autumn growing season, and wheat and gram during the spring season (Simpson). The quality of the harvest depends on the amount of soil moisture and there is also fluctuating water availability that decreases gradually after the monsoon period, which affects the soil and agriculture (Simpson). Water is the source of life, and attaining it is part of the difficulty for this region.

Measures of Effectiveness

We will consider that we have succeeded in our project not necessarily when we have changed the whole region. Rather, through simple signs like when the local people trust us and have learned to more effectively subsist from their land, as a result of a combination of their ancient knowledge and our suggestions and expertise. When we have shared our information of modern strategies and combined it with the people’s ancient approaches and they start to believe that we want to help them, we will have accomplished something amazing. Our goal is to help the people of Maharashtra region and those near Akole Taluka in moving forward as a group, society, and even as individuals.

We are certain that humanitarian work will and would be embraced by many individuals of the world if the funds were available. This though should not be an excuse for non-action; we must at least attempt to help poor peoples of every nation. Nonetheless, funds are one aspect of our project that we had to keep in consideration and under control. Our team of agrologists and volunteers have decided to live amongst the people of the Maharashtra region and in this way avoid unnecessary expenses. This also will help us in understanding the daily difficulties of the people. The funds we have been granted have been expended carefully with the hope of making the best of every dollar.

Alternative Solutions

Water Harvesting Solution:

Water harvesting is an ancient water collection method, which has been improved and improvised throughout the ages from the time of the earliest civilizations including that of the Indus Valley. A most pleasant verse indicating a part of the water cycle is found in the ‘Kiskindha Kanda’ of Valmiki’s Ramayana. It states: “The sun’s rays have drunk the water of the seas, and carrying it as an embryo for nine months, is giving out the elixir of life” (Shenoy). The ancient peoples of the Indus Valley realized the necessity of water and its obvious connection with all the living beings on earth.

In the article titled, “Traditional water harvesting methods of India”
 by Narayana Shenoy he states:

 

“Ancient Indian Sanskrit literature reveals the extensive knowledge our ancient predecessors possessed, of very complex and dynamic phenomena of movement of water in nature i.e. knowledge of rainfall, run-off, weather pattern, properties of water, properties of soil, etc. They designed and constructed dams, aqueducts and a variety of water harvesting structures much earlier than the commonly believed Greek, Roman or other ancient civilizations.”

This is a testament to that although the majority of the peoples of this region are poor; they are the descendants of a rich culture and civilization from a mysterious forgotten time in history. They were able to make it to this century from so many thousands of years ago! This is an achievement considering the difficult environment they live in. It is the opinion of our team that the ancient water harvesting techniques should be continued and developed and combined with modern techniques that suit the area. There are solutions, which will cause the least harm for the land and also the people.  On the subject of rainwater harvesting Dr. Narayana Shenoy states:

“It can be simple to construct from inexpensive local materials, and are potentially successful in most habitable locations…Roof rainwater can’t be of good quality and may require treatment before consumption. As rainwater rushes from the roof it may carry pollutants in it such as the tiniest bit of mercury from coal burning buildings to bird feces. Although some rooftop materials may produce rainwater that is harmful to human health, it can be useful in flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering the garden… these uses alone halve the amount of water used by a typical home…Overflow from rainwater harvesting tank systems can be used to refill aquifers in a process called groundwater recharge, though this is a related process, it must not be confused with Rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvested from roofs can contain human, animal and bird feces, mosses and lichens, windblown dust, particulates from urban pollution, pesticides, and inorganic ions from the sea (Ca, Mg, Na, K, Cl, SO4), and dissolved gases (CO2, NOx, SOx)) ( Shenoy ).”

This is exactly where modern science and technology and technique can help. After collecting the water as described in the passage, it must be treated. Clean water can be made available for the population of the region. In this world of coincidence there are so many ways to lose ones life, but not having drinkable water is not an acceptable reason to die for anyone in the world, for any child of any nation. We are responsible for this as human beings and as friends to our fellow human kind.

Another opinion is that of Kevin Conway who asserts that, “Over the past 70 years, human numbers have tripled but our thirst for water has surged six-fold” (p.1). He continues:

“Supply is only one part of the growing water crisis. For an increasing number of people, water quality is every bit as threatening. Population growth, industrialization, and urbanization are not only depleting lakes, rivers, and aquifers, they are polluting them as well. Already more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water; 3 billion lack access to basic sewerage systems. For millions, life-sustaining water is now a deadly menace. Water- and sanitation-related diseases will rob many more of their health and a productive future. The history of rain harvesting is rich in technique and innovation. The Greeks, the Mayans, and island peoples around the world all developed ways of harvesting or holding back rain as it cascaded from their roofs or flowed across their fields. IDRC-supported researchers tapped into this broad base of traditional knowledge and used the tools of modern science to improve water-harvesting techniques and safeguard water quality (Conway p.1).”

We agree with this strategy. The water harvesting solution is beneficial for the villagers near the area of Maharashtra. There are no negative consequences for the people using the various ancient techniques of water harvesting. This knowledge may come in handy at times of great need. We can help improve upon this way when combining it with some modern strategies to insure the best results.

The Sugarcane Solution:

According to the Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd report called, “Modern Irrigation and Fertigation Metholodgies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane” India is the world’s largest producer of sugar and sugarcane (p. 5). It also states that sugarcanes requirement for water and fertilizer are also equally high (p. 5). Sugarcane is grown with flood irrigation in all other states except in Maharashtra, which is the location of our project area (p. 5). According to this article the constraints for sugar cane production are:

1. Non availability of high yielding varieties
2. Dearth of good quality seed
3. Improper water management
4. Use of imbalanced fertilize doses
5. Negligence in plant protection
6. Low awareness among the farmers to use improved cultivation practices.

In this article it also states that sugarcane grows extremely well in medium to heavy, well-drained soils, and high organic matter content. Water logged soils and soils of poor drainage are not suitable. Growth of sugarcane will be poor in sandy soils (p. 6). Also, heat, humidity, and sunlight intensity play important role in sugarcane germination, tillering, vegetative growth and maturity. Sugarcane grows well in humid and hot weather (p. 6). In the JISL report it also states that the mean minimum temperature and the relative temperature disparity are comparatively lower in Maharashtra (p. 7). It seems that for all those reasons some are of the opinion that Maharashtra is a good region for growing sugar cane. This must be analyzed further with the reality and truth at heart. The motive of those trying to promote this alternative must be considered. Are these individuals trying to take what they believe to be the easy way out? This idea of making fast money while not considering the future of the land will cost the poor people in the end, not those making big money.

In an article titled, “More Maharashtra farmers shifting to sugarcane cultivation” the author Greeta Nair said the following:
Favorable conditions not necessarily climatic but more political, financial and overall support, are making farmers shift. Increasingly land in Maharashtra is being diverted to sugarcane. This shift is significant in Solapur, Beed and Latur. Traditionally cane has been grown in western Maharashtra and accounts for more than 60% of the state’s contribution to the sugar bowl. But now, cane is also been grown in areas that have historically known to be chronic drought prone areas and they are contributing 25% to the sugar production (Nair p.1).

In this region of India politics hardly considers the destiny of the common folk. Politicians should not make decisions about degraded lands and best alternatives. Politicians study politics and should contribute to their field. Geologists study the earth and these scientists and engineers should be the decision makers in regards to earth issues. This would positively influence our destiny as a human race upon this planet we call home.

All things considered, the district of Maharashtra is actually facing the problems of water scarcity and sustainability due to sugarcane cultivation. Therefore sugar cane cultivation is not the solution. A society cannot make all of its decisions based on a one-year economic plan. The income made within one year of sugar cane production will only be beneficial for those with the money in their pocket.

In the Agricultural Economics Research Review of 2006 called the, “Organic Sugarcane Farming for Development of Sustainable Agriculture in Maharashtra” by K.G. Kshirsagar the issue of how much sugar cane costs to grow is discussed. Also, how much fertilizers cost chemical and non-chemical, costs of irrigation, and plant protection chemicals. In this article he states:

In Maharashtra, about 80 per cent of water is utilized for agriculture (World Bank, 2003), and more than 60 percent of it is utilized for the sugarcane crop alone. Moreover, farmers mine water from deeper aquifers for the sugarcane crop, especially in the study district. This is a cause of great concern and demands conservation and judicious use of water, as it has endangered the stability and sustainability of agriculture. The organic sugarcane farming (OSF) has been found quite successful in the study area and has offered several benefits as compared to those by inorganic sugarcane farming (ISF). Although OSF requires more human labor, cost of cultivation has been found lower due to savings on chemical fertilizers, irrigation, seeds and agrochemicals. The yields have been observed to be relatively lower on OSF but are more than compensated by the price premium fetched by the organic sugarcane and the yield and profit stability observed on OSF. The OSF has been found to conserve the soil and water resources, increases farmers’ income, thereby enhancing their economic well-being and livelihood security. Thus, OSF is important in achieving the goal of sustainable agriculture. It has been suggested that organic farming should receive prime attention from all the stakeholders to realize its full potential in increasing profitability and providing the much sought after sustainability of agriculture.

This is an exaggeration of the reality of sugar cane production in Maharashtra and the future of its lands, soils, and economy. Although it is always good to consider various opinions in the end the truth must be the guide, for the harnessing of truth of those of the poor of Maharashtra region will be a beacon of light that will enable them to subsist well into the future. Their truth may need to be considered on a global level. It may well be a simple truth, that they need honest advice and help. The future of the lands in the region must be well thought out and although the people are being pressured to grow sugar cane by the government this solution is not the best alternative.

Do Nothing Approach

In his article called, “Conjunctive use of water resources in Deccan Trap” Dr. Frank Simpson stated, “Indigenous knowledge, attention to local religious practices, and respect for traditional and folk approaches to communication were indispensable to the success of the project.” This is a very important factor of our project also. Allowing the people of the Maharashtra region to continue on with their traditions and the way they have subsisted since ancient times without any help may be a choice, albeit an unfair one. It allows them to live life as their ancestors have done. So many times throughout history modern peoples have intruded on the lives of ancient peoples and have caused a lot of unpleasantness in the life of the people as a community. Although our project is an honorable one and we want to help the people of Maharashtra, they may not want the help we so want to give. Though they live in poverty they may have found some greater meaning to life.

A simple question may be, “Does what we want to provide for the people of this region fit with their life style as physical and spiritual beings?” The answer to this question may be contradictory depending on whom we ask. Some of the people might be very attached to their practices and consider them holy. Nonetheless, our goal is to try to increase their self-esteem so that they can change their future, but we must remember that this may not be ours to control. The natural way of living may be satisfactory and the most environmental friendly system for human beings to subsist at peace with the earth. Perhaps someday there may not be any better permanent solution and therefore we must think about the meaning behind this approach.

It is true that we should try to influence other cultures in order to help them move forward. Aiding people of the area in the Maharashtra region will benefit them physically, propel them forward as a community, and give them a better life. Nothing is certain in this world but the philosophy of brotherhood and sisterhood is everlasting.

In Madhav Gadgil’s article titled, “Biodiversity and India’s Degraded Lands” she discusses a very interesting topic. She says that, “ecosystem people” subsist by producing or gathering a diversity of biological resources from their immediate vicinity. The people of the Maharashtra region are such “ecosystem people”. She says:

“Their quality of life is intimately lined to the maintenance of modest levels of biodiversity in their own circumscribed resource catchments. Their resources base has been extensively degraded by pressures created by “biosphere people”…the Third World elite and citizens of industrial countries, who can draw resources from all over the world and are thus, indifferent to environmental degradation in the Third World. “Ecosystem people” have a genuine stake in biodiversity maintenance in their immediate surrounding, it is important that conservation efforts include maintenance and restoration of at least modest levels of biodiversity throughout the Third World (p. 167).”

So the question must be considered, “Do we want to help the poor of the region in order to give them bits of our life style, or rather so that we can continue our own life style in the future?”

Our projects incentive is moral so we can help poor farmers and villagers and give them our knowledge. After we do so though we must be careful not to consider ourselves their managers. We must not allow ourselves to believe that after we have given the people in Maharashtra newfound information that we must now stay in the country and become the overseers of events. It has been said many times that the world has become a global village and this is true, but we have overstepped many boundaries as a western civilization. We must deal with the people in a very considerate and sensitive manner. Their culture is fragile. We should help them and protect them but we should not govern them. We should never destroy that which makes them unique. Above all we should ask what they want.

Analysis of Alternative Solutions

The positive and negative consequences of each possible solution to the alternative solutions will now be considered. In Mintesinot Behailu and Mitiku Haile’s report about water harvesting they state:

“The aim of water harvesting is to mitigate the effects of temporal shortages of rain, so-called dry spells, to cover both household needs and productive use. This involves storage component and various forms of storage exist such as: micro-dams, farm ponds, subsurface dams, tanks… Water scarcity is a critical issue for many developing countries in general and for those in the arid to semi-arid areas of the world in particular. It has long been understood that intensive water resource development can have a decisive role in the economic and social development of a country and in alleviating drought. Alleviating food security related to drought and famine through sustainable agriculture and environmental rehabilitation…attempts are being made to harvest runoff water in micro-dams for use both in households and small-scale irrigation schemes. It is recognized that the construction of micro-dams with proper irrigation and agronomic services will result in micro-climatic and environmental changes with positive impact on sustained productivity. Notwithstanding the positive impacts on increased agricultural productivity and improved community welfare, the negative impacts of water resource development require constant assessment and monitoring on environmental changes (Behailu and Haile).”

Therefore, there are innumerable positive aspects to water harvesting. There are no negative consequences for the people relying on their ancient techniques and further developing them through our modern knowledge of water retrieval. This solution can only bring constructive results for the land and the people. Although the water collected may not be directly drinkable instantly, it is usable in many other ways, and there are many procedures to clean the water so that every person in Maharashtra will have enough to survive and hopefully prosper.

The positive aspects of sugar cane productions are that it provides a multitude of jobs and thus influences the economy positively. Negative aspect of sugar cane production other than the negative influence on soils, is that sugar cane is a water intensive crop, and enormous amount of water is required for its cultivation. This water is lacking in the area. The water to cultivate the sugar cane will be taken from the mouths of the people.

Although local politicians, representing both the State and Federal Governments, have proposed that there is money to be made from growing sugar cane on a large scale in our project area, we must consider the needs and the thoughts of the villagers. We are of the same opinion as the villagers. We believe that the proponents of the widespread production of sugar cane and scarce soil nutrients would be depleted on a large scale, with every harvest. Therefore, although the politicians think this strategy would be a big money maker it is not the best long-term solution for the land or the people.

The do nothing approach which would allow the villagers to live their life as they have done in the years before, since many thousand years ago in ancient times, also has positive and negative impacts. The positive aspect of this strategy is that the people would live as their ancestors have lived without disruption of their life style. The negative aspect is that the people may not be able to survive as they have because of changes upon the earth. Also, it must be said that our future as a human race is codependent. Yes, we may also need to learn from the people of the Maharashtra region, perhaps to balance our own life style of greed, waste, and excess. Therefore, we must lift the people of Maharashtra unto a higher standard of living and perhaps in the future lower our standard of living, in order to meet somewhere in the middle in a forthcoming time where we all must coexist together. Balance and equality of living standards will be essential so that we all survive into the next thousand years upon the earth.

Evaluation

Although it might be difficult to explain to all the people of Maharashtra what the solutions are for the project area, our team of volunteers and experts are eager and ready to meet with all the various village councils who oppose the growing of sugar cane as a major crop, and anyone else who may wish to attend our meeting. We believe that the village council is correct in that they believe that the problem of land degradation would get much worse in the longer term as a result of the mass production of sugar cane for profits. We also agree with the village council that the only way to reverse the processes of desertification, which are well under way in the region, is to prevent the monsoon rains from flowing out of the area as surface runoff. This is best done through the widespread introduction of the technologies for water harvesting and water spreading. These involve very simple modifications of the hill slopes, which are cheap, small-scale and easily replicated. The new technologies would raise the amount of soil moisture and permit the production of a higher-yield second crop. When this knowledge is combined with that of ancient harvesting methods the people will feel comfortable because they will sense a familiarity with the practices.

In Thomas Rosin’s article, “The Tradition of Groundwater Irrigation in Northwestern India” he expresses that research indicates that there existed a different groundwater irrigation system of dams and perennial canals redesigned for India by the British during the early nineteenth century and have been continued by modern Indian government. There were though also indigenous principles and practices that the people in the region followed before. He writes about a folk system of hydrologic practices in India and gives importance to the surface impoundments of rain (p. 51). He further expresses that there is a interlinking among surface water facilities and their significance to the all over hydrology. This article argues that the opinion has been voiced that the indigenous system is actually superior to that of the British (Rosin p. 51).

It is very true that some modern civilizations have lost admiration for the ancient world and the knowledge that its peoples hold within their memory. Ancient knowledge is precious and we were all once connected to peoples who were originally ancient. One day we will know perhaps how those ancient people built the great civilizations of the world including that of the mesmerizing Indus Valley, and how they survived for so many thousands of years. Until we better understand these civilizations we should never undermine the knowledge of its people.

In conclusion we cannot accept the sugar cane solution, which would cause further problems down the road for the land and the people. Therefore, we must work with the locals of the Maharashtra region to bring about changes in the area through the ancient water harvesting techniques combined with our modern knowledge. The do nothing approach in our opinion is also not acceptable. We must do something! We must be able to earn the trust of fellow human beings in that we will help them and contribute our knowledge in order to make their lives better. The Indus Valley people are a link to the past and our sincere friendship with them and all peoples of the world is our link to the future.

We should respect all the farmers of the world and not just in Maharashtra.  We must always also remember just like human beings need rest the earth also needs its rest and can only produce so much.  Do not abuse the earth that freely gives of herself and be true to our planet.  God only knows how much time there is left on earth.  This was an Assyrians point of view in regards to Geology and what is going on in India and the world.  The big question is though do you agree and what do you think and believe?

References

Brooks David, Shames Tilly, Wolfe Sarah (2001). Local Water Supply and Management: A Compendium of 30 Years of IDRC-Funded Research International Development Research Centre. Retrieved from: http://web.idrc.ca/uploads/user- S/111711308618Brooks.pdf

Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. Irrigation & Fertigation Methologies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane. Retrieved from: http://www.jains.com/PDF/crop/sugarcane%20cultivation.pdf

K.G. Kshirsagar, Agricultural, (2006). Organic Sugarcane Farming for Development of Sustainable Agriculture in Maharashtra. Economics Research Review Vol. 19 pp 145-153. Retrieved from: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/57785/2/DrKG-Kshirsagar.pdf

Madhav Gadgil, Biodiversity and India’s Degraded Lands. Published by: Springer on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Page 167 of 167-172. Obtained from Jstor: Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4314063.

Mintesinot Behailu and Mitiku Haile, (2006 June). Highlighting the impacts of North– South research collaboration among Canadian and southern higher education partners. Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada.
http://www.aucc.ca/_pdf/english/publications/colloquium_proceedings_e.pdf

Nair Geeta, (2011 Jan 14). More Maharashtra Farmers Shifting to Sugarcane Cultivation. Financial Express. Retrieved from:
http://www.financialexpress.com/news/more-maharashtra-farmers-shifting-to- sugarcane-cultivation/737292/1

Rosin Thomas (1993). Human Ecology: The Tradition of Groundwater Irrigation in Northwestern India. Obtained from Jstor.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4603074

Shenoy Narayana, (2009 August 16). Traditional Water Harvesting Methods of India. Retrieved from: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage& pid=304&page=22

Simpson Frank, and Sohani Girish, (2003). India BP-II.13: Conjunctive Use of Water Resources in Deccan Trap. In: MOST/Nuffic (IK-Unit) Database, Register of Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge, Chapter 4 of Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge, Joint Publication of the Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST) and the Centre for International Research and Advisory Networks (CIRAN), MOST Database of Best Practices. Web-link Reference: http://www.unesco.org/most/bpik13-2.htm

 

 


 

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A Flower From the Fields of Zerineh

 

By Abbey Mikha

Shlama al Omti!

I hope you are all having a great summer and doing things you love!  Yesterday I was just sitting there alone at home and I remembered my mom’s town in Jilu Hakkari called Zerineh.  I had some time and made a YouTube video with the song Zerineh by Janan Sawa and included some of my pictures.  I always loved Janan’s songs and especially his songs to do with Atra, Kha’b Nissan, and Zerineh.  I’m not sure how old the song Zerineh is, but I can remember it since I was very young.  It is a beautiful song with a sad tune, a tune that resembles the sadness that our ancestors felt when they had to flee Zerineh during the Seypa Genocide that devastated our nation.

One day I will see the ground where you stood Zerineh and one day I’ll go back to my homeland to sit in your fields, to see your mountains, and to wonder why time has created this distance between us.  Even though I am far from the lands of my ancestors I’ll always be a flower from the fields of Zerineh.

I am an Assyrian born in Lebanon. My mother’s family be Yousip  left their homeland in Zerineh Hakkari and escaped to Kiev during the Seypa Genocide of 1915.  My mom is in the blue in the picture in this post.  There is a story passed down in my family that my great grandfather Adam Yousip  from Zerineh walked from the Hakkari region with his family to Kiev.  My grandfather Kostan was born in Kiev. He moved to Lebanon with his family when he was very young.  I grew up listening to Assyrian music in the town of Ksara in Lebanon at the yearly Sherat Mar Zaia celebration and I have always loved Assyrian music even though my family left Lebanon to Germany and then to Canada at a very young age.  I love the country of my birth Lebanon, but my heart pulses the song of Assyria and the song of Zerineh.

The Assyrians in Ksara call the town in Lebanon Zerineh because so many people in town come from Zerineh Jilu Hakkari originally.  They are survivors of the Seypa Genocide.   The houses in the town of Ksara were given to these Assyrians who still live there amongst each other.  There is a beautiful church in the town called Mar Zaia to remind us of our beautiful church in Hakkari.  I hope to visit Hakkari one day and see what is left of the towns and villages of the Assyrians in Turkey.  This land belongs to us but who will listen?  I hope that life will give you an opportunity to go back and visit our homeland as well.

I have written an article about the Hakkari Assyrians called, “The Metis of Red River and the Assyrians of Assyria.”  It is from a few years back but I have updated it and it is still valid today.  Here is the link: <http://assyrianvoice.net/emagazine/?p=369>

The Song “Zerineh” is one of my favorites ever since I was young because I always knew that my mom’s ancestors were from Zerineh and because I myself like the lady in the song have green eyes.  I wonder if many women from Zerineh have green eyes!? I also have heritage from Alqosh and Mardin in Tur Abdin, but I always felt close to the town of Zerineh because I grew up with the kids of the town in Ksara until I was five years old many of which were Zerne.  I am proud of my entire heritage.  It is my honor to be from Zerineh, Alqosh, and Mardin!  I never forgot the people in the town of Ksara no matter which countries I traveled to just like I never forget the people of Zerineh, Alqosh, and Mardin and all Assyrian towns and villages.   They all always stayed in my heart.  I think of them everyday and even in dreams.  I hope to visit my relatives in Ksara Lebanon soon and one day I hope to see where Zerineh once stood.

My friend Ashour and I were discussing this issue of returning to the homeland and he said, “We should ALWAYS think of our beautiful homeland and the glorious day that we return, like a lost child returning to his mother.”

I responded to him: “Children sometimes grow up and search a lifetime for their mother even if she gave them up at birth or at a young age!  Many of them forgive their mothers for letting them go because they realize that her situation was very difficult at that time.  In a way our homeland gave us up since 1915, but this does not have to be forever.  Those of us who are attached to the beat of our land and ancestry are connected to an invisible umbilical chord. It is like something that pulls us to the direction of the East. Like an image of beautiful goddesses of our homeland calling our names to return and signaling with their hands and telling us that we are all flowers who are supposed to be blooming there in those fields by those mountains.”  I will always love my moms town of Zerineh.

For those of you asking for more pictures from my life in Lebanon here is a picture of my mom and I taken in Zahle during Easter celebration.

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My new YouTube creation:

 
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