Why Am I Here?

In a gathering of teachers, a friend of mine asked us to think about this question. I'm not about transmitting American culture. Don't get me wrong- I think American culture is great. In America. But I've studied too much about cultures, and species, and what happens when an invasive species enters another area. Inevitably, competitive exclusion occurs, and one species, usually the indigenous one, is forced out or into extinction. That's what I see here in Morocco, with growing Western influence, be it French or American. Moroccan culture is slowly disappearing. To say transforming is to be too kind- it is being overwhelmed by the global, American-dominated society. I don't want to be part of the destruction of the culture. Even if there are aspects of the culture here (as there are in every culture) that are imperfect, I want to be part of helping people grow within their culture, not without it. Any other road leads to syncretism.

Part of moving to another country involves the death of oneself, and the death of culture, that you have grown accustomed to, in order to better love those around you. I've read recently that no one can follow me unless they pick up their cross. I think that's what living overseas is all about, in the best of times.

So then, why am I here? Just before our meeting the other day, I had been at school, passing two junior high kids who were about to get into a fight. Seeing me coming, a third kid started to dance inbetween them, to try to make it appear that the three of them were just playing around. Of course, I saw this. Then one of the two fighting saw me and quickly put his arm around his antagonist, saying, "Kain Ustad, kain Ustad!" "There's a teacher here!" Again, trying to hide the fight. So I said, "Eiwa, kain Ustad. U Ustad kayfahem Arabi. U Ustad kayshuf kulshi." "Yes, there is a teacher. And he understands Arabic. And he sees all." That shocked them enough, to know I had understood them, and they started laughing. No more fight.

A couple days ago, I broke up my first female fight. Walking home, a young teenage girl fell right in front of me. I thought she had fallen, but then realized that another girl had pushed her down, and now she was crying. It is incredibly rare here for women to come to blows on the street; even yelling at each other is more rare than with men. I wanted to help the woman who had fallen, but of course, it would be inappropriate to touch her, except in extreme circumstances, so I limited myself to just asking if she was alright. During this time, as a crowd gathered, the other woman continued to berate her, raising the accused's ire, and both were soon at it again. I stepped between them, asking what they were doing- are they men, that they fight so? The others around were pointing at me, and telling the two fighters, "For shame- the foreigner is right." Eventually, the two women separated and went their separate ways.

Long ago, I was briefly part of a spin-off of the Toronto Blessing Church. While I have found many unfortunate aspects to that movement, there are also positives- like their focus on signs, wonders, and prophesy. While visiting the Toronto Blessing Church, a man prophesied over me that I would be a peace maker. Honestly, I haven't seen it. Sometimes here, I think I fight for the other side, to my shame. I am too impatient at times. Or too concerned with others' safety. Perhaps that prophesy is beginning to be fulfilled. I think that's why I'm here- to be a peace maker.


Adam said…
great post, Abdul Muhib!! i especially like the first part -- and you know that i've always admired you for such influences on Moroccans... rest assured that your time here has not been in vain!
Anonymous said…
I can't get throug hthe 1st paragraph without commenting. We have no way of knowing how often teh non-indigenous species is competivitely excluded, especially when invasion may occur in small numbers. However, there are certain characteristics that increase the chances that the non-native will competitively exclude the native: noxious effects, better use of resources, escape from predators/parasites/evolved competitive relationships. -Q
@bdul muHib said…
You're right of course. But if I limit it to large-scale invasions, can you think of one case where the native has *not* been competively excluded? And, since I'm using it as an analogy to human subspecies interactions, one historical example where that has *not* happened?

It seems like you imply, that another species coming in in large numbers would automatically have an advantage, as there has not yet evolved any predators for that particular species. It would be only chance that a particular predator would favor the new species, and a small chance at that. There only concern would be having enough prey, and the environmental conditions being ideal. But if those conditions aren't met, then they wouldn't be coming in in large numbers.

Alternatively, those conditions could be not met by the invasive species moving in, and then a sudden change in conditions wipes them out, where the idigenous species is better adapted. But then statistically this would also be unlikely, as you would have a fairly generalist native species. And if the environmental conditions change, I'm basically changing the ecosystem, and positing that both species become invasive in any case.
Anonymous said…
Short form: Typically, we only notice the large scale invasions where the native did not prevail. The others we typically call "lack of invasion" or "non-invasive". Our definition of invasiveness implies a competitive advantage of the nonnative. Hmm, you know, with more brain power, I could dissertate about invasions all day; you are likely correct in your thinking as well, but I'm too tired right now to think straight. Invasions: something to discuss over email, and summer, perhaps. I need more biological discussion in my life. Right now I'm wondering: Is that an albino peacock? How bizarre. Can't attract the ladies AND is total tiger meat!

BTW, your entries are LONG but have such incredible depth. Thank you for writing and for posting your thoughts.
@bdul muHib said…
I think you're right; good insight. An invasive species is only going to be successfully invasive if it's numbers are on par with the indigenous, more so, or in numbers close to the idigenous, depending on the comparable advantage. Unless it it has some incredible r selection, 3 individuals washing up on an island aren't going to do much damage. If it is heavily r though, they could I suppose.

I don't know about the albino- if it is, the sign didn't say so (in French). And it wasn't with the other peacocks. But your comment is funny.

You're right; I need to post more often and shorter- going to start working on that. So far, I've found that the time to blog comes at extended periods after long periods of business.
Anonymous said…
google "albino peacock" images -- simply stunning!


(Just realized I'm signing my name as the annoying imp on ST:NG who would pop in and cause trouble for the crew. Hopefully, you don't find me to actually be so.)

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