The Problematic Expectations of Somali Parents

Every culture got taboos that are like the elephant in the room where it’s in your face but you have to pretend it’s not there.

You know what the Somali taboo is? Parents.

Parents are treated as divine. They are always correct no matter what they do by virtue of being parents. Everything they do comes with conditions that the child must reciprocate when they’re old enough. Actually, scratch that. The daughter carries that obligation, alone. The son, much like the father, isn’t expected to contribute anything other than staying out of trouble and balwad.

I can’t get into the stuff girls go through, psychologically, because it’s way beyond the scope of this note, but I’ll say this to those who are plagued by cognitive dissonance as a result of emotional abuse or neglect and the guilt that arises from making out the parent to be ‘the bad guy’. It’s hell. You’re damned either way. Writing this brings up dissonance in me. I’ve always been at odds with my parents. Not because I was wild or anything. I’ve always been a nerdy introvert. But I also only marched to the beat of my own drum; a fact that caused me immense anguish when controlled and restricted, and being mislabelled as a stubborn ingrate. 

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Love is painful

People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.


Jim Morrison

Soul Asphyxiation

The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.

Jim Morrison


I’m watching Hotel Rwanda as I’m typing this, and I’m completely devastated and in tears over the horrific events. I imagine being a Tutsi in Rwanda, having the West withdraw all of its troops and only get their foreign nationals out, while leaving us to be slaughtered because we don’t matter. Because we are Africans. In 100 days, 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered with machetes – children were especially targeted to hamper the next generation of Tutsis. So much hate. As I’m watching it, I sense an urgency to look away. To watch it and not do anything. Not write about it. I realize it’s because I avoid my own pain and seek pleasure to plug my feelings, so how would I be able to do anything for the atrocities that occur today? We are so heavily vested in entertainment, here in the West, and there is a heavy price to pay for our hedonism. We pay with our consciousness, we pay with our compassion, we pay with our determination – we pay with our lives. We remain zombie-like, awaiting the death of our bodies, carrying around the corpse of our souls.
In one scene, Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle) who is the hotel manager that saved 1,200 Rwandans by hiding them in the hotel, asks a reporter how the world would remain apathetic when they watch the horrendous footage? The reported replied; ‘ they will see it, say how horrible it is, and return to eating their dinner.’
How familiar this sounds. Likes and retweets appease the gnawing guilt and frees the conscience to indulge in ignorant bliss.

I just realized how connected we are as humans. I realized how important it is for me to overcome my fears and wounds that cripple me, because there are countless humans suffering all over the world, counting on ‘someone’ to do something. And while I can’t be the someone to rescue all, I can be something to someone; if only by a word of comfort.

Indeed, the only change we can make is the one within. And it’s the one most neglected.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Leo Tolstoy

And what exactly is meant by changing oneself to change the world? Is it to pose as a role model to be followed? To inspire? No. It has nothing to do with the desired outcome, for that is to pursue selfish agendas and feed egos. It’s simply about embodying the things that are lacking in this world or the things you want to see but aren’t. It’s simply about being a beacon of light. A lighthouse. Not thinking about amassing crowds and followers, or gain fame and money in order to do something. No. It is to awaken what lies dormant in all of humanity; hope. When Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., or every other revolutionary set off on their first steps they never fathomed to create such lasting change. They did it because it was intrinsic to them. Something within them deprived them of their sleep at night, deprived them of peace of thought, inflicted searing pain in their gut when they saw the rampant injustices around them.

We all have something to do on this earth, and the magnitude of this purpose is irrelevant. When you conquer your inner demons, imagine what injustices you could conquer in this world? When you heal your own pain, imagine what pain you could soothe in this world? You get what you give in this world, and that will either be your reward or your punishment. Give love, get love. Give indifference, be invisible and unloved.

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.

Jim Morrison

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