Israeli Nation-State Law: Legalising Discrimination

Australia will always be my home. My professional ambition is to work in the field of human rights by completing short-term contracts where I report as a program specialist on program fidelity and consult on M&E assurance in the field of education for children and young people. But home is where I am building a stronghold of friends and family, where I love my job and have a stable routine, where I get the chance to go for weekends away hiking and camping, where I feel secure and free. I used to feel trapped in a dead-end job, living with people I did not really get along with and so I would imagine ideas of escape to somewhere else, but it was my life that I needed to change and not my location and right now I can say that Australia is a wonderful place.

I am currently visiting Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem working with young people and exploring and developing my skills, but the restriction to my movements, the fear of even going for a long walk on my own, the sight of teenagers holding weapons and toddlers roaming the streets on their own barefoot in dirty clothing sends shivers down my spine. Only this morning, a young boy was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the neighboring Dheisheh refugee camp. Unfortunately, I had a meeting at the Walled Off Hotel with a friend and on my way back I turned the corner to find young people protesting the fatal attack and were throwing stones at the Israeli Sniper Tower in Bethlehem, one hitting my arm by accident as it ricocheted off the wall from the building beside me as I suddenly found myself caught in between the clashes.

My visit to the camp has given me direct access to see how unfortunate the circumstances are for these young boys and girls, all of whom have very limited opportunity to find work or to study, their movements curtailed because they have no money and are confined behind restrictions of the Israeli occupation, continuously belittled and degraded and where their chances of exploring their creativity or other skills remains extremely narrow. To escape that feeling of powerlessness, many turn to crime and form attachments to religious and political ideologies that give them a sense of purpose such as becoming a shahid or martyr dying for their faith, which enables an escape from their unhappy situation by imagining themselves a part of something bigger.

It is whole populations being imprisoned within extreme socioeconomic conditions, internally displaced from their homes and feeling the tension of the constant threat of attack, with overcrowding, poor infrastructure and restricted access to food and water. 42.5% of the population of Palestine are refugees, with UNRWA figures showing a total of 5,340,443 (2017) registered Palestinian refugees across Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, the total increasing when considering worldwide refugees located in other countries. Since 1948 when Israeli forces expelled and displaced Palestinians from their homes known as the al-Nakbah and further perpetuating totals following the 1967 war that ultimately led to occupation of regions in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians remain the longest and one of the largest displaced refugees in the world.

Article 12 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights discusses freedom of movement both internally and the ability to leave, where one shall not be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country. Further to this, the right to self-determination is enshrined in principle within Art 1 (2) of the United Nations Charter, whereby previous to this in the Atlantic Charter by Roosevelt and Churchill, it claimed that “[N]o territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.” The charter itself in addition to this right clarifies how the principle of self-determination also concerns other territories that assume responsibility to ensure that measures are taken to assist and promote international peace and security so that the interests of the inhabitants are recognised or enabled (Art 73). Israel, on the other hand, has set aside their obligation and indeed continues to disable the conditions necessary for Palestinian self-determination.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who I see as a leader who has done nothing but destroy the remaining prospect for any two-state solution in the region, is chairman of the right-wing Likud Party and current Prime Minister of Israel and the party while supportive of improved Arab-Israeli relations has a strong opposition to Palestinian statehood. The party continuously undermines any potential peace settlements as seen with Netanyahu’ clear and unambiguous statement that Israel will remain in the West Bank with or without a peace deal that unnervingly clarifies an indefinite occupation in the region. The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three administrative divisions of A, which is effectively controlled by the Palestinian Authority and is comprised of about 18% of the territory and are separated by Israeli controlled checkpoints that Palestinians would need to travel through to get to other areas even within Area A. Refusal to pass is common as is the constant humiliation and treatment given to Palestinians at these checkpoints. Area B is even more complex, with limited Palestinian control and more exclusivity to Israeli security forces over Palestinian authorities, and Area C is under full control by Israel making up almost 60% of the West Bank’ territories. Palestinians living in Area C are often mistreated and have limited – if any – access to drinking water, and any Palestinian homes built in areas controlled by Israel are demolished. Even within that, Hebron is further divided into H1 controlled by PA and H2 by Israel where within 20% of the city are illegally built Israeli settlements. Palestinians control a small percentage of the land with a much higher population density and limited resources, comparatively to Israeli occupied territories making up the largest with the smallest population of Israeli settlements.

image.adapt.990.high.East_Jerusalem_map_2007.1404855022290

Criticism of Israeli policy and government is not anti-Semitism and it should not be a tool to assist solidarity and easily dismiss facts. I am not against Israel as a State, on the contrary, but the facts are that there have been continuous attacks and a blatant disregard to international law that clearly showcase Israeli discrimination against the Palestinians, largely confirmed by the recent legislative changes that now sanction discrimination as constitutionally acceptable. The Nation-State Law is not only dangerously discriminatory and intentionally alienates the Arab community of Israel, but any sensible person can see that it is in contravention of basic human rights and has clear ideological roots that borders an almost radical ultra-nationalism in the political spectrum. For instance:

1 (c) – The actualisation of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

This ridiculous statement claims that only Jewish people have the right to self-determination in the region and is characterised as forcible suppression of Palestinian rights.

3 – The unified and complete city of Jerusalem is the capital of Israel

This remains a contentious issue since Palestinians also claim Jerusalem to be their political capital and the division between East and West Jerusalem is clarity of the ongoing issues. Donald Trump’ recent move to transfer the US Embassy into the region caused widespread protests as it became a reference to the ownership of Jerusalem by Israel. Since the UK originally declared Jerusalem to be an international zone, the west of Jerusalem was taken in 1948 during the war and the east in 1967.

4 (a) Hebrew is the language of the state.

The Arabic language will be removed as an official language and regulated, though afforded “special status” that really means nothing.

7. The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.

This promotes the already highly disputed issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, something Netanyahu has eagerly promoted. Prior to the development of Israel as a State, questions about what Israel would actually look like given the largely diverse Jewish communities across Europe – particularly Russia and Poland – where religion is heavily involved in state affairs or conversely to be more secular as promoted by mainly those from the United States continues even today. It is an unanswered civil question that can almost be seen between the residents of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The illegal settlements built in occupied territories in contravention of International Law perpetuate feelings of antagonism and hostility that the Israelis themselves are creating and members of revisionist Zionism continues to remain skeptical to any concessions with Palestine, the assassination of Israeli leader Yitzak Rabin clarity of this deeply hostile Othering that almost suggests that the history and pain from a very long and terrible past continues to be present and unresolved today. Have Israeli citizens found forgiveness for what they have experienced in the past, or do they still believe and fear that everyone is and will always be against them and willing to destroy them? The fear and hostility, the aggression and political adaptation of a far-right nexus are all suggestive of a collective pathology that needs to be addressed, but in saying that when states like Iran scream nuclear annihilation it only enables and justifies Israeli hostility. Everyone deserves to protect themselves. However, the religious or biblical justifications that mobilise such authority in the region where Rabbi’s have recently initiated confirmation of this privileged position by mobilising over 1,000 Israeli settlers to try enter into Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem in yet another blatant disregard to the cultural identity of Islam to the Palestinian people.

To focus on what reconciliation looks like following a history of violence that included genocide against the Jewish people and the psychological effects from such a long history of discrimination and violence has to current political affairs may contribute to a better understanding of how to promote and build peace. Laws that segregate communities and isolate diversity only perpetuate the problem as it reinforces and encourages illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories of Palestine. In addition to this, to promote peace and non-violence amongst the Palestinians who themselves have faced a recent history of violence, occupation and other gross violations of their human rights need to also find forgiveness in order to repair and sustain a state strong enough to build the framework for self-determination. What this forgiveness looks like is difficult to see right now, but I am confident to never give up hope that there will be peace.

 

Islamic Mysticism in the Near Eastern Region

The syncrestic religious groups in the Near East have adopted oral methods of transmission and maintain a particular level of secrecy due to the esoteric content of their faith and the consequent risk of persecution. Most members of the syncretistic religions are often left uninformed about their beliefs, yet they distinctly class themselves as religious adherents to Islam. Similarities between their traditions include their close relationship with Shi’ism, particularly Ismail’i, while also singing, dancing or chanting to hymns and poetry. Pre-Islamic traditions by the Turcoman tribes, Nestorian Christianity and even Buddhism together with the accompaniment of Persian and Zoroastrian beliefs all working within the social complexity of isolation, diaspora and migration for religious heresy adds to this intricacy. It is said that the steady conversion of many Christians in Anatolia to Islam introduced Gnostic elements that spawned the creation of a unique community of Muslims. Parallels between Near Eastern syncrestictic cosmogony and Christianity can perhaps be dated back to the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 that generated the gradual migration and invasion of Anatolia by the Turks, while the Oghuz people under the Seljuk’s expanded their population until the region became predominately Turkish. Although cosmogonic traditions vary between each heterodox group in and around the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia, religious views of angels and the universe together with accounts of the symbolic and mythological tales about God or the Divine Essence provide evidence of their unique similarities. Persecution by the Ottoman Empire for their religious heterodoxy isolated and ultimately developed a unique community and an orally transmitted tradition. It is important to elucidate the basic tenets of these heterodox communities within and around the Fertile Crescent in order to compare their unique relationship to one another.


Bektaşi – Turkey

The Bektaşi are a Sufi dervish order originating from the Balkan region who acknowledge the twelve Imam’s (Twelver Shi’i) and venerate both ‘Ali and the sixth Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq.[1] The tarikat or Bektaşi Brotherhood particularly view Haci Bektaş Veli as a saint. Haci Bektaş Veli was a Persian mystic from the 13th century and author of the Makalat, his own discourses and teachings that were religiously and spiritually progressive for his time, particularly since he was sympathetic to the poor living conditions and the rights of women.[2] It is often claimed that Haci Bektaş Veli fought against Arab influence over Islam and attempted to release the oppressed rural and impoverished from the exploitation by the elite, preaching “[a] version of Islam which synthesized Sunni and Shi’i beliefs with Muslim and Christian religious practices.”[3] There are claims that Mustapha Kemal was himself a Bektaşi that consequently established a strong political link between the Bektaşi and the Kemalists, but the legitimacy of the argument is weak.

Although similarities between Alevi and Bektaşi exist particularly because of the mystic Haci Bektaş and Pir Sultan Abdal whom they both revere,[4] there are clear differences. “Her ne kadar, Bektaşi ve Alevi, her iki topluluk da, kendilerini Haci Bektaş’a bagliyor ve ayni kokenden geliyor olsalar da, erkan oldukca farklidir.”[5] Unlike the Alevis who were persecuted and consequently isolated, the Bektaşi Order had considerable protection by the Ottomans and contact with the administration.[6 Bektaşi leadership can be offered upon completion of a degree and while being more theologically scriptualised or codified, any person who wishes to join the order are permitted to convert, a clear difference to Alevis who must be a talip or belong to a dede lineage. “Alevism and Bektaşism share neither the same geographical frameworks nor possess the same internal mechanisms and rules… Bektaşism is dominantly Balkan, while Alevism finds its origins in Anatolia. Bektaşism has been mainly urban, while the Alevism was, until recently, mainly rural.”[7]

While most social and religious duties are held by a dede who guides the various prayers and rituals at the cem house, the head of a tekke (dervish lodge) is led by a baba.[8] The tekke at Hacibektaş was once a place of ritual servitude but has now become a museum and a place of ceremonial gathering. It contains the monastery (maydin evi) which is where most of the services are held, but it also has an ekmek evi that includes the women’s quarters and a bake house (or an aş evi which is the kitchen) as well as an area for guests staying at the lodge (mihman evi).[9] Their religious beliefs incorporate a unique blend of Islamic and Christian elements, such as tying Muhammad, ‘Ali and Allah into a trinity or distributing wine, bread and cheese to new members (murshid or aşik), which is “probably a survival of the Holy Communion as practiced by the Artotyrites.”[10] The Bektaşi distinguish rank through the number of folds in their white cap. “The number four symbolises the “four gates”: shari’a [şeriyat], tarika, ma’rifa, hakika and the four corresponding classes of people: ‘abid, zahid, ‘arif, muhibb; the number twelve points to the number of imams. Particularly characteristic are also the twelve-fluted taslim taşi, which is worn around the neck, and the teber (double-axe).”[11]

As mentioned, the Bektaşi had considerable protection by the Ottoman Empire particularly because the Janissaries appreciated the similarity the order had with Christianity. Esra Ozyurek states that between the 16th and the 19th centuries, the Ottomans embraced the Bektaşi Order and made it the central religious organisation of the Janissaries, until 1826 when many Janissaries were killed and the Bektaşi Order made illegal. Like the Alevi, the Bektaşi allow women to participate in rituals and often sing and dance to hymns, bestowing great favour to ‘Ali and also Shah Isma’il among others. A translated version of a nefes poem is as follows:

I took the mirror to my face
Ali appeared to my eye…
He is Jesus and Christ
He is the refuge to the believers
He is the Shah of the two worlds
Ali appeared to my eye
Ali is the pure, Ali is the clean
Ali is the hidden, Ali is the manifest
Ali is the first, Ali is the last
Ali appeared to my eye
Ali is the life, Ali is the Beloved
Ali is the religion, Ali is the belief
Ali is the merciful, Ali is the compassionate
Ali appeared to my eye.[12]


Alawi – Syria

The endeavour to further understand the Alawi (traditional known as Nusayr’i) of Syria has increased over recent decades, particularly because most of the political and military elite are from an Alawi background. An ethnic minority numbering three million, the Alawis are mainly populated around the rural mountains of the Latakia region in Syria (75%) with a small proportion in urban cities of Syria; they can also be found in Lebanon and Israel (after the capture of the Golan Heights). Groups of Arab speaking Alevis who distinctly trace their lineage to the Alawi in Syria are located in southern Turkey (particularly Hatay and Adana) and though they share a similar name and other practices, the Alawi in Turkey do not correspond or affiliate with the Alevis of Anatolia.

Like many of the heterodox communities, little is known of their origin and mixed views are often reiterated, although it has been claimed that the Alawi are remnants of the ancient Canaanite people who were influence by Christianity and Isma’iliyyah Islam before adopting Arabic as their primary language.[13] It has been claimed that the sect developed during the mid-ninth century in Iraq under Muhammad B. Nusayr al-Namiri who revered the tenth Shi’i Imam[14], yet unlike the Anatolian Alevis who were Turcoman that converted to Islam, the Alawis were Arabs that similarly converted. “The Alawites in Syria… had already established their religious sect during the tenth century in Jabal Ansariyya near Latakia. Their secret faith is described as a blend of ancient Syrian or Phoenician paganism (mainly the worship of the triad: the sun, the moon and the stars or sky), possibly influence by various Christian Trinitarianism… and largely manifested in a Shi’i-Ismaili fashion with adherence to Imam Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s first cousin and son-in-law, and to Salman al-Farisi, one of Mohammad’s Persian followers.[15]

Because of their esoteric religious beliefs, the Alawi have experiences centuries of poverty, isolation and persecution by the Sunni elite in the region. The greater risk of violence forced the Alawi to practice taqiya much more rigorously than Alevis. The use of particular codes or jargon in their scriptures can only be understood by the initiated who are orally taught the socio-dialect and the meaning behind the content, while some manuscripts have little information about the divine charactic of ‘Ali, though it is widely known to be an integral part of Alawi belief. Most Alawi members are often excluded from the traditions and practices, especially women who are considered incapable of comprehending the vast scale of their beliefs. Sulaiman Efendi al-Adhani (b. 1834/1835) published the kitab al-bakurat as-Sulaimaniya fi kashf asrar ad-diyanat an-nusairya that discusses the origin of myth in Alawi tradition and contains narrative accounts of their cosmological structure and ideas.[16] According to Alawi beliefs, God revealed himself to the world seven times, each time as a different figure accompanied by two others.[17] With the divine triad and the transmigration of souls, it is believed that ‘Ali was thus an incarnation of God, accompanied by Muhammad and Salman al-Farsi.[18] Tord Olsson provides some valuable information about the religious doctrines and esoteric content of the Alawi community that is gradually slipping into the hands of researchers.

Q[uestion] 1: Who is our Lord, who has created us?
A[nswer]: He is our master, the commander of the faith, the prince of the bees, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and he is god, of whom (it holds true that) there is no god except him, the merciful, the compassionate.[19]

The initiated can only be male and both his parents must also be Alawi. Both the Shi’i and Alawi regard Nahj al-Balagha (Peak of Eloquence), a collection of sermons and sayings written by or attributed to Ali, as critical to their religious beliefs. A dede is quite different to a hoca used in Alawi communities, particularly southern Turkey. A dede practices tarikat while a hoca would prefer the practice of şeriyat. Anyone can become a hoca and often learn or teach in Arabic, while a dede must be born into a family lineage. “They have additional specialized functions: a hoca reads the nikah before the consummation of a marriage and it is a hoca who leads the burial service cenaze and intones hymns, ilahi, over the body as it is laid to earth.”[20]

The community are split into four tribal divisions or associations, namely Khayyatun, Haddadun, Matawirah and Kalbiyyah.[21] While only men can be initiated into Alawi rites, there are no particular patrimonial or lineage requirements and any Alawi man can be initiated to become a tribal leader; most tribal leaders still retain a level of power amongst the rural and uneducated. The Alawi communities in the urban or coastal areas in Syria are fragmented, particularly because of their loose tribal associations and their previous dominance by the Sunni or Christian elite, sharply contrasting with the Alawi tribes in the mountainous regions who hold stronger tribal and religious ties. Nevertheless, the last several decades have shown a new and emerging Alawi community developing in both rural and urban environments, particularly due to education and career opportunities, something I shall further elucidate in another post.


Ahl-e Haqq – Iran

The Ahl-e Haqq (or Yarsan) is an Iranian based esoteric community primarily situated in western Iran, but also Iraq and Turkey, while being scattered amongst the mountains in Geran, Kermanshahan and western Azerbayjan. Most adherents are from a Kurdish or Lak (an ethnically unique Persian group closely related to Kurdish) ethnicity. It is difficult to determine the exact genesis of the religious order and white it is generally agreed that they began under the leadership of Sultan Sahak during the late 14th or early 15th century, there are hardly any sources that can directly prove this.[22] Similar to Alevis, the Ahl-e Haqq believe in the interconnectedness of ‘alam-i batin (inner world) and ‘alam-i zahir (outer world).[23] Like most of the syncretistic religions of the Near East, the Ahl-e Haqq believe in dunudunu or the transmigration of souls as well as mazhariyyat or the manifestation of the divine essence (God or zat-I haqq) in human beings. “The division of beings into two distinct categories is perhaps a later development of Zoroastrian ideas. The sacrifice of the cock has been several times connected with the corresponding Jewish rite, while the biblical names (Dawud, Musi) may have come through the intermediary of the Qu’ran.”[24] The etymology of the name Ahl-e Haqq translates to, ‘followers, or people of the truth, the divinity.’[25] Unlike the Alawi who worship ‘Ali and revere Sultan Sahak (who is also used as an avatar in Yezidi traditional commentary), conversely the Ahl-e Haqq worship Sultan Sahak and revere ‘Ali.

The Ahl-e Haqq texts such as the Tadhkira’i A’la, the Shah-nama-ye Haqiqat and the Ilam-e Haqiqat explain tales of the genesis of the universe together with the light of God. It also similarly speaks of the ‘pearl’ that the Yezidi use to describe the divine essence. Zat-I haqq or the divine essence was originally hidden in a pearl in the ocean of the universe, and this divine essence transformed into Khavandgar (creator) in the first cycle of divine manifestation (the decond is ‘Ali before the cyclic cosmogony establishes the shari’at (Islamic law), the tariqat (ritual teachings) and ma’rifat (knowledge of divine reality) until finally manifesting in Sultan Sahak who established Ahl-e Haqq.[26] A collection of kalam (sacred hymns) can be found in the book Kalam-i Saranjam (conclusion) sid to be written by the angel Pir Musi, a companion of Sultan Sahak who was charged with recording the actions and behaviour of people, though this elusive text written in Gurani is difficult to obtain.[27] Like the Alevis, the Ahl-e Haqq do not follow the pillars of Islam and have instead adopted their own methods of ritual and practice. “Instead they have their own sacred universe and their own rituals, which centre on the jam (lit., assembly) when they chant their sacred hymns (kalam), play their sacred lute (tanbur), make offerings of food, and share a sacrificial meal,” while adhering to religious secrecy or sir (mystery).”[28]

The Ahl-e Haqq have sayyids or direct descendants of Sultan Sahak and have eleven different holy lineages called khandan (house) each headed by a pir.[29] What differentiates them from other syncretistic religions, however, is that common members of the community can obtain high-ranking religious positions while not obtained the sacred texts, instead relying on a kalam-khan or one who can recite the kalam orally without the text.[30] Publication of Borhan al-Haqq (demonstration of truth) by Nur Ali Elahi, a Persian jurist and philosopher, describes the historical and theological of the Ahl-e Haqq and provides valuable information about their rituals, rites and beliefs.


Yazidi – Iraq

Most Yazidi reside in the province of Mosul, settling particularly in the mountainous areas of Jabal Sinjar and Shaikhan, and while most Yazidi communicate officially in Kurdish, small communities can be found in Armenia, Georgia, Syria and Turkey.[31] The Yazidi believe in unique cosmogony and myths about the genesis of the universe, angels and prophets, since their “[t]heology and mythology, particularly cosmogony, show traces of a non-Islamic tradition which may be of ancient Iranian origin.”[32] Like most heterodox communities, the Yazidi were separated and persecuted from the Muslim world that intensified during the Ottoman period through their centralisation and sunnification policies against heterodox communities. It is difficult to trace the historical emergence of Yazidism, but “[i]t seems that Yazidism, an indigenous Kurdish faith influence by Zoroastrism, was revived by ‘Adi b. Musafir (c. 1075 – 1162), an Arab Sufi shaikh whom the Yazidi regard as the saintly founder of their religion.”[33] Like many of the hetrodox communities, hymn (kawl) are often used to orally channel their affection for the prophets and saints and illustrate their religious beliefs.

The Yazidi believe in the one God and seven archangels, haft surr or the “Seven Mysteries”.[34] The most revered archangel is the Ta’use-e Malak (Peacock Angel). The peacock angel known also as Melek Tawus or Azra’il has been labelled seytan (devil) by the wider Islamic community, although the Yazidi deny this assertion. They believe that human beings were created through Adam, without Eve, claiming that while “Christians, Jews and Muslims were sprung from Adam and Eve, their own patriarchs were descendants of a certain Shahid, the son of Adam alone”.[35] The Yazidi text, Meshef Resh, tells the tale of how God created the White Pearl and the bird Enfer, before the haft surr are formed through this white pearl sitting on the back of Enfer. The Yazidi sharply contrast the love for ‘Ali unlike most of the other syncretistic religions, instead venerating Yazid b. Mu’awiya (particularly in Sinjar), the second Ummayad Caliph and son of Muawiya B. Abi Sufyan, known to be the cause of the martyrdom of Hasan and Huseyin.[36]

It was once prohibited to read and write amongst the Yazidi that consequently created a unique oral and syncretistic tradition encapsulated within a tribal and hereditary social order with strong ties to kinship; the Yazidi hierarchical divisions also include the requirement or custom to only marry within the tribe. Worldwide horror at the violent death of a young Yazidi girl, stoned by the community due to her apparent intentions to marry a non-Yazidi and filmed on camera by the youths present, expose the simplicity to breach moral law because of such a custom. There are bavs or bras (tribal sections) that function as the main political units for the Yazidi.


Druze – Lebanon

Similar to the Alawi, many members of the Druze community are unaware of the secret doctrines of the religion and only those who are initiated are allowed to learn the esoteric content of their unique faith. Persecution forced the Druze to isolate themselves in rural or mountainous areas of southern Lebanon where their religion flourished and spread to Israel (Galilee) and Syria (Aleppo). The Druze religion began in the 11th-century during the Fatamid empire under the leadership of Hamza ibn-Ali, where in Cairo the Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah became revered as an incarnation of God.[37] As the Druze believe in the transmigration of souls, they claim that successive reincarnations of al-Hakim will gradually allow him to return and re-establish the Druze movement. The Druze have combined their belief in the ta’wil (esoteric secrecy) and the tanzil (outer meaning) through their reverence of al-Hakim who, along with Hamza ibn ‘Ali after establishing missionaries within the Fatamid Empire, disappeared.[38] Leadership was later given to al-Muqtana Baha ad-Din whose collected writings and epistles together with those of Hamza ibn ‘Ali developed the foundation of Druze scriptures, even though persecution turned the order into a secret religion.[39] “Like Druze, Shi’a and Alawis they [Alevi] practiced dissimulation and secrecy about their religion (taqiya).”[40]

The dynamics of contemporary Druze communities are highly individualised, whereby “[e]veryone “knew” or interpreted the meaning or function of every social interaction… everyone was enmeshed in it.”[41] There are hierarchical divisions in traditional Druze communities, not only between the initiated or the ‘uqqal (sage) and the non-initiated or juhhal (ignorant), but also spiritual hierarchies amongst the ‘uqqal.[42] The juhhal have no spiritual obligation and merely adhere to the basic tenets of communal obligation, while the ‘uqqal work as mediators if there are any social conflicts. They are highly respected for being the guardians of the esoteric and secret content. “Through their attendance at meetings in the khilwe (prayer house) on Thursday and sometimes Sunday evenings, the ‘uqqal are responsible for maintaining the spiritual well-being of the community in which they live.”[43] Spiritual hierarchies amongst the ‘uqqal or okhtyar (old man) – who must wear distinct clothing with a laffi (red and white turban) – can be observed by the wearing of the headdress and whether one has a beard or moustache. Since the Druze believe in transmigration of the soul, women are viewed to play a crucial role in birth and the transcendental process of reincarnation, although they are not particularly allowed to participate in initiation or religious hierarchy.

[1] C.E. Bosworth; H. Pearson; JD Pearson; E. Van Donzel; P.J. Bearman; J. Van Lent; H.U. Qureshi. Op. Cit., 1162
[2] Ibid., 1162
[3] Olsson, Ozdalga and Raudvere, op. cit., 152
[4] Irene Melikoff, Haci Bektas Efsaneden Gercege Ceviren: Turan Alptekin (Istanbul: Cumhuriet Kitaplari, 2004) 290. Pir Sultan Abdal is a famous poet – “Hatai etkileyici ve surukleyici (charismatique) bir kisilik olmakla birlikte, Betasi-Alevi sairler icinde en taninan vee n evilen suphesiz Pir Sultan Adbal’dir.”
[5] Ibid., 255
[6] Stewart, op. cit., 135
[7] Ibid., 177
[8] Mahmud Faksh. “The Alawi Community of Syria: A New Dominant Political Force.” Middle Eastern Studies 20 (1984): 133–153
[9] C.E. Bosworth; H. Pearson; JD Pearson; E. Van Donzel; P.J. Bearman; J. Van Lent; H.U. Qureshi. Op. Cit., 1162
[10]Ibid., 1162
[11]Ibid., 1162
[12]Olsson, Ozdalga and Raudvere, op. cit., 152
[13] Faksh, op. cit., 135
[14] C.E. Bosworth; H. Pearson; JD Pearson; E. Van Donzel; P.J. Bearman; J. Van Lent; H.U. Qureshi. Op. Cit., 146
[15] Olsson, Ozdalga and Raudvere, op. cit., 152
[16] Ibid., 177
[17] Faksh, op. cit., 135
[18] Ibid., 135. Salman al-Farsi was a companion of the prophet Mohammad.
[19] The sources are from the kitab ta’lim diyanat an-nusairiya.
[20] White and Jongerden, op. cit., 44
[21] Faksh, op. cit., 137
[22] Hosseini, Z. Mir, “Inner Truth and Outer History: The Two World of the Ahl-I Haqq of Kurdistan” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 26 (1994) 268
[23] Ibid., 267
[24] C.E. Bosworth; H. Pearson; JD Pearson; E. Van Donzel; P.J. Bearman; J. Van Lent; H.U. Qureshi. Op. Cit., 263
[25] Hosseini, op. cit., 267
[26] Ibid., 271
[27] Ibid., 268
[28] Ibid., 268
[29] Ibid., 270
[30] Ibid., 270
[31] Fuccaro, Nelida. “Communalism and the State in Iraq: Yazidi Kurds (c1869 – 1940) Middle Eastern Studies (35:2, 1999) 1.
[32] C.E. Bosworth; H. Pearson; JD Pearson; E. Van Donzel; P.J. Bearman; J. Van Lent; H.U. Qureshi. Op. Cit., 314
[33] Fuccaro, op. cit., 10
[34] Ibid., 314
[35] Driver, op. cit., 201
[36] Fuccaro, op. cit., 15
[37] J. Oppenheimer, “Culture and Politics in Druze Ethnicity”, 1:3 (1977) 623
[38] Ibid., 623
[39] Ibid., 623
[40] Zeidan, op. cit., 2
[41] Louise E. Sweet, “Visiting Patterns and Social Dynamics in Eastern Mediterranean Communities” Anthropological Quarterly, 47:1 (Jan., 1974) 113
[42] Oppenheimer, op. cit., 624
[43] Ibid., 624

Are All Men Cowards?

I often remark on the necessity of moral consciousness, what I deem to be the correct representation of the ambiguous notion of ‘love’ where one is capable of rationally reflecting on moral judgements toward the principle aim of reaching the ideal [Platonic] Form of Good or God and what one can only achieve once they have transcended to posses a mental state of autonomy. That is, one who can transcend socially expected codes of conduct relative to their culture and what they are expected to conform to toward guiding themselves in a state of rational freedom, setting standards and responding with moral principles according to their own understanding of duty and good-will. This transcendence toward an authentic and independent way of thinking without the interference of our subjective fears and outside influences is determined by the courage to face the separateness of ourselves from others and to take responsibility for our decisions and actions; the greatest obstacle being the angst produced within us by the alienation from everything we had been taught to believe is our reality. It is to face our individuality. This angst is a type of subjective pain and we end up with a difficult choice in the attempt to end the pain; as mentioned, we either transcend and begin taking self-reflective responsibility through developing an independent moral consciousness, or we give up and conform to patterns of social behaviour. This conformity, however, can be religious or gang-related, it can be following your partner or friends and family to following neo-Nazi ideology, whatever is accessible that would enable the individual to avoid exercising independent and rational judgement. This decision is nihilistic since reasoning and acting consciously is the nature of our existence and failing this confirms a belief in a meaninglessness for ones own life. The ‘soul’ of the individual is in despair because the conscious conformism is against our very nature and to silence this blind submission, feelings of powerlessness and of weakness, his nihilism and hatred for himself projects outward to the world around him. He loses his humanity and what is left is nothing but a wretched person who has conformed to the rules of his environment that artificially protects him from exposing his state of mind, or lack thereof. This subjective cowardice to take that natural step toward transcending to an independent moral consciousness by abandoning self-reflective responsibility is an archetype of cowardice in all its forms, which is why it could render a man capable of violence and even murder of a woman behind closed doors, to those who are physically weaker, and who are dependent on them. Why would they take responsibility for others if they are incapable of doing so within themselves?

When I saw a poster written by activists following the brutal murder of 20 year old Özgecan Aslan in Turkey by a man who attempted to rape her, where it wrote “Biz kadın gibi yaşamak istiyoruz,” which translates to we want to live as women, I unequivocally understood what that meant. There is a trend that one will notice as you continue to read, that the most vulnerable in our society, those that require protection and support are turned away, ignored and ultimately become the victims of violence and exploitation. These perpetrators who seek out the vulnerable epitomise cowardice defined not as one who is afraid of the dark, but rather one who is afraid of his moral responsibility that in the process discards morality and becomes a ‘worm’ as Kierkegaard calls such men. “For a worm it might be regarded as a sin to harbor such thoughts, but not for a being made in the image of God.”[1] Power is a critical variable and often those who abuse their position of power or authority are the members of a household who make the decisions.

The global number of people trafficked per year for labour and sexual exploitation is staggering, with 75 per cent of the 20.9 million[2] exploited being women and children;[3] 4.6 million are victims of sexual slavery. In 2012, accounting 14 per cent of all homicides were deaths resulting from intimate partner or family member abuse,[4] with 50 per cent of all female homicide victims – a total of 43,600 women – killed from domestic violence. 95 per cent of perpetrators of all global homicide were male.[5] It is estimated that globally, 35% of women have experience violence either physically or sexually. Women with intellectual disabilities are regularly victims of physical and sexual abuse that forced sterlisations continue to be performed and the impact on children who witness or experience domestic violence includes “a range of behavioural and emotional disturbances. These can also be associated with perpetrating or experiencing violence later in life,”[6] as well as an increased risk in health issues.

The situation is not something one can dismiss and domestic violence by intimate partners and family members resulting in the overwhelming number of fatalities is clearly disproportionate between genders, just as much as sexual exploitation. Whilst it may be possible to quantify the number of deaths or reported crimes, it would be difficult to verify the actual number of women and children who have experienced violence and further still, it is even more complex ascertaining the causal roots of this tragedy. By taking into account the socio-political and cultural conditions, and even the psychological and behavioural perceptions of masculinity, we may shed light on ways to establish normative changes to current state practices on the prevention of interpersonal violence.

Disparaging views against women is not an uncommon phenomenon, in fact, it continues even academically where traditionally male-dominated disciplines such as the sciences and philosophy consistently disregard the canons of female representatives while subjecting them to hasty generalisations and mockery that prolong pre-existing gender bias without consideration to the historical and continued subjugation of women’ rights. Some stricter patriarchic societies have normalised violence against women in addition to the mental health effects caused by the glorification of abuse where violence is used as an instrument to engender notions of masculinity and power. This is clearly the case in Turkey, where the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Policy revealed that almost 86% of a population of over 38 million women in the country has suffered from physical and psychological violence.[7] My home country, Australia, also has staggering results where it has become the leading cause of preventable death and illness of women aged between 15-44 following the establishment of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, however comparably it is not as pervasive. When such widespread violence becomes a cultural norm, it verifies why 64% of women in Turkey remain married to their abusive partner. The effects of domestic violence has a devastating impact on the mental health of victims as seen with patterns where clusters of Turkish women experience major depressive disorder, phobic and post-traumatic stress disorder[8] that can often be considered a normal female feature.

It is not normal.

I recently spoke about a memory where my father was standing outside of a bedroom door when I was a child, wielding a large kitchen knife and screaming at my mother, who had locked herself in the room, telling her to get out so he can kill her. This is followed by another memory of him reading a poem he wrote for my mother about the love he had for her. Psychological abuse stands at the forefront of violence against women and children and is used as a tactic for several reasons; the first is to control the victim through feelings of guilt, confusion and fear and the second is to deflect blame and responsibility for their own actions. This includes tactics such as economic control and isolation from any support mechanisms including friends and family, making excuses such as exhaustion due to work obligations, criticising her appearances and intellect, and mind games such as gaslighting taken from the 1944 film Gaslight starring Charles Boyer as Gregory Anton who slowly convinces his wife Paula played by Ingrid Bergman that she is going insane. It is the gradual tactic that sows psychological doubts of ones own sanity. My father came from a Turkish/Arabic culture that glorified violence and where violence against a wife and other men were promoted as a symbol of his capacity to protect his family unit [his parents and siblings].

Whilst we have feminist studies, cultural ideals and notions of masculinity seemingly go under the radar. An environment that promotes notions of masculinity through defined attributes such as physical strength, breadwinners [domestic power] and professional prestige effect perceptions on how a man should appear and behave. When constructions of masculinity is defined as much as beauty is to the identity of the feminine, a dichotomy is by extension coupled with this definition whereby feelings of emasculation are formed when one fails to adequately adhere to the required qualities that define this image of a ‘man’. Masculinity and the concept of gender itself is a social construct.[9] He assumes failure and develops a sense of insignificance and a way to overcome the sense of subjective powerlessness is through acts of aggression since it is envisioned as a form of power. This is also the case with sexual violence and why 58% of trafficking cases globally account for sexual exploitation, not to mention the crime of sexual violence as a weapon of war. As with definitions of masculinity, notions of feminine purity often shift the blame to victims of sexual violence. 

article-sexworker-1109

A haunting glimpse into the reality of sex-workers as it almost exposes the monstrosity behind men who have lost the depth of their humanity by willingly engaging in sexual exploitation of women and their failure to adhere to the responsibility toward morality.

The effects of my experiences as a child witnessing the violence included feeling guilty for what was essentially the abuse against me, as well as being afraid of and distrustful of men that I never approached intimate relationships. Instead – in my isolation – I focused intently on understanding the conflicting challenges between what was moral and loving in principle to eliminate what was programmed by my environment and experiences. I saved my own life because of this. I changed my name and chose to lead my own life independent of all institutions and social requisites including my past experiences and developed a new life or ‘church’ under my own direction. Most continue being subject to or inflicting violence, careless of themselves and denying any problem with their circumstances, hence the prevalence and prevalent acceptance of violence against women. What needs to be understood is that any form of violence can never be justified unless it is in self-defense and even so there are strict rules as to what may be adequately considered thus. Any man who raises his arm against a woman or attacks, exploits or abuses someone vulnerable is exposing nothing more than his mental health and moral defects and utilising psychological games by blaming the victim to deflect responsibility or by using the cultural normalisation of violence as a justification cannot change that very fact.

Only a man who self-regulates his own behaviour and adheres to his own moral principles consciously along with his own independent view of selfhood would never feel emasculated even with a woman who may be professionally or academically more successful, because he becomes a man in his own right rather than what is socially constructed. I was forced to fend for myself, to fight through constant injustice and to surpress my feminine attributes to survive, hence why “Biz kadın gibi yaşamak istiyoruz” is saying that a woman wants to be a peace enough in her life to be herself. While patriarchic cultures may be to blame, it is the fact that violent men have serious mental health issues vis-à-vis their failure to take moral responsibility for their behaviour. It is to wholly accept the fact that violence equates to mental health problems, particularly in light of children who are exposed to violence and are likely to inherit the same behaviour later in life. It is not just that women and children are currently going through an invisible catastrophe, but on the whole people have turned their backs on morality and our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

The trend here is that people have turned their backs on love.

[1] Douglas J. Soccio, Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy, Cengage Learning (2015) 401. See Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life
[2] See United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012
[3] Ibid.
[4] See United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), The Global Study on Homicide 2013
[5] Ibid.
[6] World Health Organisation, Violence Against Women: Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Against Women Fact sheet (November 2016) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/
[7] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarabrynn-hudgins/a-chronic-problem-violenc_b_13649898.html
[8] Simsek Z, Ak D, Altindag A, Günes M. “Prevalence and predictors of mental disorders among women in Sanliurfa, Southeastern Turkey,” J Public Health (Oxf). 2008 Dec 30(4): 487-93.
[9] See Maurice Berger, Brian Wallis, Simon Watson, Carrie Mae Weems, Constructing Masculinity, Psychology Press (1995)

 

Love and the Ethics of Emotions

Bullying is an ambiguous term and can be understood as a low-level form of violence.[1] This includes a continuum of aggressive and inappropriate behaviour such as denigrating comments on appearance, intellect or lifestyle choices, ostracising or alienating, covert threats and harassment, deliberately enforcing meaningless or impossible tasks, or deliberately making competent persons appear incompetent, etc &c.[2] Bullying is commonly found in schools, online and in the workplace and it “may be the most prevalent form of violence in schools and the form that is likely to affect the greatest number of students.”[3] As a critical public health issue,[4] bullying can be either covert such as ostracising and slandering, or clearly perceptible and serious such as stalking. “A growing body of research has indicated that both bullying and being bullied can have extensive physical, social and mental health consequences, with a notable impact on academic achievement and social development.”[5] §55A (1)(a) of the Occupation Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 states that bullying behaviour is, “repeated and systematic, and that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would expect to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten”[6] that ultimately creates a risk to health and safety.[7] This risk can include physical, emotional and psychological harm leading to deterioration in health and wellbeing. A negative culture often purports the individual or individuals as “lacking a sense of humour”, being “too sensitive”, or “lacking the talent or intelligence” [which often results in their dismissal] rather than focusing on resolving the problems being raised.[8] Reflection is an important cognitive feature that elevates critically the analytical structure of the emotions and the contribution it may have to moral and ethical wellbeing. Martha Nussbaum discusses emotions, or in particular emotional-thoughts, as contributing toward a better understanding of the subjective human qualities that reconstruct a conception of moral virtue.[9] One aspect of her work that I appreciated was her ability to reflect on her own personal experiences as part of her seminal study of human emotions of which I will attempt to replicate, in doing so knowing that this is all merely a study and process of reflection for my own personal advancement and healing.

I myself was a victim of bullying from multiple sources at the same time and over an extended period and I can assure you that the impact emotionally and psychologically was quite profound. The violence ranged from one man who made comments that I was going bald and other vicious remarks about my appearance that attempted to make me feel very ugly, indirect threats such as stating that ‘women deserve to get bashed’ and recommending that I watch a movie Irreversible about a woman who is brutally raped. The same man involved others by slandering me as a way to protect himself from being caught in the act and wanting – at the time – desperately for him to just stop hurting me, I gave him justifications for his slanderous remarks so that he could feel satisfied enough to leave me alone as I was afraid that he was waiting for a moment to physically hurt me. At the same time I was being harassed by family members [including verbal abuse and threats] that eventually required police intervention due to the serious nature of some of the threats made against me. I never felt so alone and afraid. The bullying and my emotional state raised the past and my childhood to the surface, further adding to the emotional confusion and all this was topped by a loss of my savings and a severe car accident; to protect myself from the onslaught of hatred, I felt it necessary to fabricate strength out of the fear that my vulnerability would be used advantageously that added stress to my already dismal state of mind. The harassment continued online through cyber-bullying and involving others I was again tricked and deceived; my emotional disbelief at that point allowed me to paradoxically pity my subjugator and admittingly even developed feelings for him, feelings I now understand were a result of my vulnerability and confusion. I began to appeal to his conscience, illuminating my personal history to him where I informed him that I did not have a mother or a father as my father was exceedingly violent and my mother emotionally disassociated due to the mental health effects of the trauma he inflicted. I explained that I had never been in a relationship because I was so afraid of being hurt as I was continuously harassed – being the youngest child – by my siblings who consistently told me that I was worthless and ugly likely as a consequence from the upbringing we endured. I even went so far as to admit that I have been alone most of my life and since I was a child would stare out at the stars wishing I would meet someone who actually cared about me.

I used methods of writing that would compel him to read particular topics of moral interest either theologically such as the Book of Proverbs or philosophically, particularly of existential themes to try and motivate a sense of compassion and wisdom. What I really wanted was for him to find the means to acknowledge his previously committed wrongdoing, to apologise to me and allow me to move on from the pain. That an apology and friendship would make him more of a man by truly representing moral strength. I knew that such an apology from my family was impossible as with each attempt at reconciliation they would instead search for and justify their actions by attacking me, usually through psychological manipulation and claim that the fault lies within me. The greatest difficulty was seeing past that, that bullies often blame the victim and make it seem as though it was their fault or that something was wrong with them. And that was how he finalised our encounter by stating that it was me who was ‘crazy’ and that the only reason he was communicating with me was due his sexual desire, words that became the very bullet in my heart knowing that his denial of any wrongdoing was the source of my hurt along with the added humiliation that sharing with him my personal story fell on deaf ears. I had no choice but to abandon the hope that he cared more for the life of an innocent human being over himself and his own ego, that the social ‘show’ he performs is of more importance than the honesty of obtaining a moral heart.

As the sciences define categories to distinguish and relate as part of a process that schematically represent key analytical labels in order to rationally approach and advance a particular topic, the human mind and our experiences function in the same manner. The only flaw in this process is that it is individually up to ourselves to traverse this cognitive dominion and any identification is dependant on a range of factors, more importantly the honesty that we study the biological, environmental, social and a range of other features including emotional and psychological responses with critical evaluation. This is not an easy feat, for instance whether one is an atheist or religious, both are beliefs and to question the nature of that belief and the certainty of conviction often entails a broad epistemic and phenomenological analysis; a mature mind is able to transcend ‘belief’ – broaden their horizon – and ascertain the subjective ingredients that reflect the causal nature prompting emotional responses and moral considerations, or the lack thereof. According to Kant, a moral agent is one who acts on maxims that attune moral judgements toward guiding and motivating virtuous principles and values: “[t]he moral law is for itself the motivation in reason’s judgement and those who make it their maxim are morally good.”[10] This is under the basis of a law of autonomy, the capacity to reflect and identify information, decisions and experiences accessible only to an individual separate from any dispensation to others whether it is institutionally, socially, religiously or even personally including family and friends; one capable to self-govern as an authority over his or her own existence. While many people believe themselves capable of such authority, it is clear that this individualism merely cloaks what is a strict adherence to social constructs that provide the falsification of an ‘individual’ – like in the United States there exists rhetoric that loudly speaks of individualism when a majority blindly follow in masses.

One particular element I found intriguing in Nussbaum’ argument is the nature of emotions being subject to a world that we cannot control, that our emotional responses become the impetus that compels a better understanding of value and of well-being. “Nussbaum argues that an emotion is constituted by judgements that we make in relation to objects that are of importance to our world and wellbeing. Commonly these evaluations pertain to things we cannot fully control.”[11] An important aspect to this argument is the impact this lack of control or separateness has on the individual – perhaps causally the reason for someone to become the ‘bully’ – as this separateness from the world around us provokes an emotional disarray, leading to such confusion and anxiety that one is compelled to repress or act in a manner that is damaging to others or themselves, becoming dishonest or deceitful in nature and incapable of confronting their own wrongdoing. As Nussbaum shows, the loss of a family member confirms that we lack any control. When I say separateness, I take the Frommian approach to the term:

“Man is gifted with reason; he is life being aware of itself; he has awareness of himself, of his fellow men, of his past, and of the possibilities of his future. This awareness of himself as a separate entity, the awareness of his own short lifespan, of the fact that without his will he is born and against his will he dies, that he will die before those whom he loves, or they before him, the awareness of his aloneness and separateness, of his helplessness before the forces of nature and of society, all this makes his separate, disunited existence an unbearable prison… the experience of separateness arouses anxiety; it is, indeed, the source of all anxiety.”[12]

The anxiety stems from the fact that we are alone and separate from the world around us that we create symbiotic attachments at personal and social levels to falsify a fictional connection, sometimes being brutal in our attempt to control our environment due to this unbearable anxiety. My emotional collapse following the extremity of the preceding experience enabled me the capacity to study and reflect on my own existential position in a world where aloneness became clearly perceptible that – slowly but surely – I became aware of the importance of my own health and body, my mind and my capacity to achieve that I suddenly realised my own significance; I transformed from a miserable, hollow person to a Kantian moral agent standing fearlessly in an eternal and universal form of love. I now find myself in the Maslow sense meta-motivated where I am strengthened by a motivation to consistently improve my state of mind and wellbeing and that I choose who I have in my life and who I refuse in addition to fortifying my professional and ethical position. Love and developing my moral stance has become the substance that fills the void, the universal and eternal sense of wholeness that nothing else, no fleeting or pleasurable feeling or relations with others could substantiate. Viktor Frankl discusses this deep emotional challenge following his experience during the holocaust where he transcended the suffering to illustrate the importance of finding meaning in his life. “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”[13] That the underlying and unbearable truth is that we lack a purpose.

I came to see that what we have developed to overcome this is the distraction of a consumer, perhaps a sociopathic society – that is a society with an impaired understanding of morality – characterised by egotistical traits under the fraud of material and fleeting physical considerations where meaning is merely the social position that one replicates for approval that only rapidly disintegrates the possibility of attaining individual autonomy. Imagine it like this; a person is listening to headphones and singing along to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams while dancing down the street, completely oblivious to a war going on around them, hopping over dead bodies and patting the heads of crying children. There are terrible things going on in this world, what are you doing? People have become worried about their bodies and appearances, afraid of what other people may think as though this neuroticism now coerces people to participate, enticed with sexual pleasures rather than intellectual pursuits and viewing people – even themselves – as a commodity. Lacking the capacity to reason with compassion is an exposure of what I stated once before – that society has become sociopathic – namely that moral virtue and wisdom is the basis for a genuine or honest individual and that acting according to an image is living in a state of delusion that disconnects one from their own emotions and thus from attaining any genuine sense of moral well-being. If the anxiety of being alone provokes such intense feelings of subjective anxiety, people mould themselves to environments and adapt to people that they are not genuinely happy with as though they would rather have noxious people in their lives than be alone [for instance, women who stay in relationships that involve domestic violence].

It is by being alone that one can embrace and retain the integrity that could define the conditions of an ‘individual’ and the strength to survive the anxiety is only possible by embracing love, whereby I interpret ‘love’ as being moral consciousness. While the pain occasionally arises where I do hope that I receive a genuine apology or as said by Aaron Lazare, “[a]pologies have the power to heal humiliations and grudges; remove the desire for vengeance, and generate forgiveness on the part of the offended parties,” I have come to accept my circumstances and no longer have the same intense emotions as I slowly advance toward a better understanding and appreciation of myself. An apology is taking responsibility for a mistake and as such reflects the same causal response or emotional reaction a victim would experience; that is, repentance allows one become aware of themselves. Emotions and being vulnerable are not a reflection of weakness, on the contrary they play an evaluative role that exposes an incompleteness that we feel but are yet to understand. The nature and role intuition – the oft elusive tool that I believe utilises an emotional reaction to an unconscious belief such as feelings of doubt, fear, or confusion arouses a reactionary response without conscious awareness – becomes an epiphenomena or by-product of an experience and the very stimulus that develops a perceptual examination of a moral or ethical quandary. That is, we may have experienced something we do not consciously understand or even remember objectively and thus when we encounter a situation that prompts an intuitive reaction, it is as though an epistemic mental representation without an explicit logical structure is speaking to us something that we already know but that we do not yet understand at conscious level. I have come to view my emotions as my strength as the heartache I endured enabled me to reflect on my past experiences with objectivity, to attempt to find forgiveness despite the consistent opposition.

Although I have been alone for most of my life, I now have the capacity to choose to find and commit myself to a mature love, one that distinguishes itself from symbiotic attachments and that involves honesty, genuine care and humility. That as a little girl, I looked up at the stars wanting to be cared for only to now see that I am still that little girl and was right all along. All we need to do is remove the mess of everything that happens from childhood until now and remember that innocence and that love within ourselves.

As said by Frankl: “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

[1] Glennis Hanley, “Don’t Do What I Do – Just Bloody Well Do What I Say! The Workplace Bullying Experiences of Australian Academics” Monash University Working Paper 63/03, September 2003.

[2] Clare Mayhew and Duncan Chappel, “’Internal’ Violence or Bullying and the Health Workforce” NSW Department of Health, Taskforce on the Prevention and Management of Violence in the Health Workplace.

[3] George M. Batsche & Howard M. Knoff, “Bullies and their Victims: Understanding a Pervasive Problem in the Schools,” School Psychology Review, 23 (1994), 165 – 175.

[4] John Blosnich and Robert Bossarte, “Low-Level Violence in Schools: Is There an Association between School Safety Measures and Peer Victimization?” Journal of School Health, 81:2 (Feb 2011), 107-113. The Mental Health Reforms through the Gillard Government has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to better mental health care to Australians due to the rising problem of mental health issues such as depression and suicide.

[5]Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study, “Covert bullying: A Review of National and International Research” Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Australia, pp12-62

[6] §55A (1)(a) of the Occupation Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986

[7] §55A (1)(b) of the Occupation Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986

[8] Op.Cit., Glennis Hanley

[9] Please see Martha C. Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, Cambridge University Press, (2003)

[10] G. Felicitas Munzel, Kant’s Conception of Moral Character: The “Critical” Link of Morality, Anthropology, and Reflective Judgment, University of Chicago Press, (1999) 68-69

[11] Chris Barker, Emma A. Jane, Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice

[12] Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving: The Centennial Edition, A&C Black (2000) 8

[13] Itai Ivtzan, Tim Lomas, Mindfulness in Positive Psychology: The Science of Meditation and Wellbeing, Routledge (2016) 228