Archive for September 2013

Facebook now wasting valuable time from Assyrians’ already busy schedules

By: Ashur Sada

 

As if Assyrians didn’t have enough distractions, you can now add spending hours and hours on Facebook to the list.  We already

Assyrians are increasingly wasting more and more valuable time on Facebook. Time they could have and better used it on more useful things like reading, working out, volunteering, family time etc.

had Turkish soap operas on satellite dishes to make even the most active of Assyrian mothers and wives into very immobile, lazy and stationary creatures, glued to the TV for hours-or to a computer-watching non-stop Turkish soap operas. Ask any Assyrian or Middle Eastern female about the name ‘Mohanad’ and they will tell you everything about him before you are even done asking the question. For the record, he is a blonde, blue-eyed Turkish actor whom ladies find very handsome and attractive.

And while Assyrian ladies are busy watching Turkish soap operas and non-stop Arabic songs and movies on satellite dishes, Assyrian men are busy at coffee shops and other places of socialization, wasting even more time. In other words, both have enough time-wasting activities to ensure not much is left for useful and educational things (i.e reading, house work, volunteering, working secondary jobs, working out etc.)

Then came Facebook…

As if things weren’t already bad enough, we then had Facebook to worry about (in addition to the other already time-wasting online activities, including Paltalk, Youtube etc.) But when Facebook came, the number of hours in a day for Assyrians remained fixed at 24 and didn’t increase. So Assyrian parents and even younger generations now had to prioritize. How do you divide your day between watching Arabic and Turkish soap operas, be able to go to coffee shops and be on Facebook for hours? And if you were unfortunate enough to have a job, you had even less hours to do all of these. Here are some examples:

  • Unemployed:
    -Wake up at 12 PM
    -Go online till 1 PM
    -Start watching the dish till 6 PM
    -Go to your local coffee shop to socialize and waste more time
    -Be home by 9 PM and go online to waste more time on Facebook, Youtube etc.
  • Employed
    -Wake up at 8 AM and go to work
    -Come back home at 5 PM and spend some time online, but not much, because you have to go out
    -Spend your early evening at the local coffee shop to socialize
    -Come home and go on Facebook for hours until it is time to sleep

Now to be fair, some have become creative and started multitasking to be able to enjoy as many of these activities at once, without missing a beat. For example, some can now be found at their local coffee shop, with a mobile phone glued to their hand, so they can be connected to Facebook while being with their friends drinking coffee and socializing. While others have either installed a TV in their rooms or bought a laptop/table to be able to be on Facebook while watching satellite TV.   And there are some who  have ingeniously combined all three activities. This last group is to be commended for their time and multitasking creativity!

Seriously, is there a middle ground? there is nothing wrong with doing any of these activities, or even all 3 together. But it is all about moderation.  Do we have enough time left for family, kids, reading, studying, working around the house, working a second job, learning something new, working out etc.?  Think about the time people-not just Assyrians-are wasting on Facebook. It is mind-boggling. Hours that can easily be spent on something much more advantageous.  If we were to assume that Assyrian Facebook/Cafe/Dish addicts are spending  and average of 3-5 hours on these activities everyday, that is a lot of wasted time that could have been spent doing something much more useful.  That is enough time to make a good secondary income from a PT job, finish a course in a few weeks or even volunteer doing something at a local charity or church.  And if all of that is not possible, how about doing some reading, even if that reading is done online. Given all the vast and free information at our fingertips, it is a crime for us not to make use of it.  And even if you are going to spend time on Youtube for example, you can find thousands upon thousands of tutorial and educational videos, from which you can learn a lot. Wasting time while learning and gaining nothing is simply stupid.

This post may have a few generalizations, exaggeration and assumptions but the message is clear: Facebook, as useful as it may be at times, is wasting valuable time from us. Time that could be spent doing other more productive things.   Our world is moving at a very rapid pace and competition is fiercer and more global than ever before. We need to do our best to be ready for what is to come and ensure we have an even better generation coming up. Put down the remote and mouse and grab a book instead. Even if for just 15 minutes!

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Balancing the Middle East with new independent Christian states

By: Ashur Sada

christianity in the middle east

It is time to reverse the tide and stop the persecution of the Christians in the Middle East (Assyrians,Chaldeans,Syriacs,Copts, Armenians and others) even if it means giving them their own independent states.

I don’t believe in dividing long established states, along ethnic and religious lines. Reason being that once you start, where do you stop? Virtually every country in the world is made up of different ethnic and religious groups. No country is 100% ethnically-homogeneous.

Having said that, it is becoming clearer and clearer that certain countries in the middle east are becoming too unstable and dangerous for certain religious and ethnic groups to survive. Specifically, Christians in the middle easy are increasingly and systematically being targeted by Muslim extremists, with governments powerless to do anything. In fact in some cases, even if they can stop this persecution, the government still turns a blind eye.

These extreme situations are becoming too hard to survive. With the lack of trust, safety and general regional stability, the already small Christian minorities in the region are getting smaller and smaller. Millions have been forced to flee to the west.

Not to mention countless others that have been killed just in the last few years. This can’t go on forever.   Something has to give. Fleeing to the West is not and shouldn’t be the only option. Dramatic measures-given the dramatic situation at hand-have to be taken to reverse this situation for the better for Christians in the middle east.
How about giving them their own state? One where they will manage and be able to have full control of protecting themselves. Who qualifies for such a feat? Let us go through a list of countries that haven’t done a good job of protecting the indigenous Christian natives of their countries, that we have no option but to cut and slice through their national borders in order to protect this important segment of their demographics make-up.

Iraq

The Christian community in Iraq (represented by the Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac , Armenian and other smaller groups)  numbered some 1.3 million about 10 years ago or about 6% of the population. Since then, and following the US invasion,  more than half have been forced to leave given the increasingly dangerous and desperate situation. Through violence and political marginalization, the Christians in Iraq are being squeezed by the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in the autonomous  north. Coupled with persistent targeting by radicals, the Christians don’t have such a bright future to look forward to. Ideally, any future state or semi-autonomy would be in the northern Nineveh plain region, a series of towns and villages where a significant Assyrian Christian population currently lives. It also happens to be the region where the ancient Assyrian empire and its capital once stood.

Egypt

It keeps getting worse and worse for the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the largest Christian minority in the middle east. Numbering close to 8 million or about 9% of the population of Egypt, this ancient group has also been shrinking. And this has accelerated in the last few years, given all the political turmoil in Egypt, coupled with the rise of Islamist’ influence and popularity in the country. Just like the Assyrians in Iraq, the Copts in Egypt are extremely loyal to their country. But you can only take so much and eventually, you would like to have your own region or country to be able to control your identity, fate and safety, since the state is not able to do its job. Unlike in Iraq and given their bigger numbers, Christians are scattered throughout Egypt, though they do have certain pockets of concentration (including in the south, Alexandria etc.)

Syria

The brutal 2.5 years of civil war in Syria is tearing the country apart and making the situation in Iraq look like a walk in the park. And it is only getting worse. Christians in the country (Including Assyrians/Syriacs, Armenians and others) have been systematically targeted by the rebels and terrorists fighting to topple the current Syrian regime. They have already forced thousands of them to abandon their historical villages and towns, some of which they have been living in for literally thousands of years.  Depending on what transpires in Syria next, if the unfortunate happens and the country is divided along ethnic lines, the Assyrians and Christians in general may get their own region or independent state in the north east of the country, near the cities of Al-Hasakah and Al-Qamishli. This is a region where hundreds of thousands of Christians already live, in addition to many others living in other parts of Syria, including in the capital Damascus.

There are other examples in the region such as Lebanon and South Sudan. In both of these countries, Christianity is either the dominant religion or close to a majority. For the new country of Southern Sudan, they were able to gain their independence

from Sudan, all the result of government and Muslim prosecution of the Christian south.

Future implications of new Christian states in the middle east

The creation of new states in the middle east along ethnic and religious lines may seem counter-intuitive to the idea of balancing the middle east and making it more peaceful. And it may cause further segregation. But in the long term, it will be safer for a lot of people.  A middle east with more christian presence would only help to balance things out and that is always a good thing.

And this is not a foreign concept to this region, after all, the region was virtually all christian prior to Islam.  And since these new countries will have Christianity as their official religion, and with no sharia law to worry about, they will be much more peaceful compared to their neighboring Muslim states. Terrorism will also be none-existent. These countries would be models of democracy, peace, stability and human rights respect for the rest of the region. And with stability and peace come economic development.  Even for Israel, this would make things more safe and reduce its worry about having neighbors that are always at war with the Jewish state.

It doesn’t have to come to this and it shouldn’t. But it is becoming harder and harder for Christians to simply survive in the middle east, let alone thriving and having a good future. The rise of political Islam, terrorism and the absence of rule of law are making it impossible to have any hope for a better future.  Such harsh conditions will make it necessary for Christians to have their own autonomous regions or even states in the future.

Remember, the middle east was only formed as we know it less than 100 years ago. Unfortunately, the original planners didn’t do a good job or at least didn’t envision how things would turn out.  It may be time to look at these maps again and recreate them based on the new demographics and conditions on the ground.

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