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Spring 10. Issue 4. AUB Insight Club
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Drowning in Garbage By Moneer Moukaddem With a surfboard tucked under one arm and a banana for energy in the other, I balance on the edge of a sidewalk and wait for a red license plate. A plastic bag is blown on to my leg. I brush it off. “Not mine,” I assure myself, and it floats down Bliss Street. An old Mercedes screeches to a halt. The driver stares with suspicion. I do look like a penguin in my black wetsuit, but I doubt that is what he is thinking. It was a crisp but calm December morning. Chirping morning birds mark the end of a two day storm. Last night rain fell parallel to the ground as fierce winds blew all the way off the coast of Greece. The sea was bursting with energy. The shore line at Ramlet elBayda is always never litter-free, but that day was conspicuously different. Several super-markets had emptied their aisles onto the
Out there it boils down to the basics: What nature is and who you are. beach, or so it seemed. I brush it off because oh the waves, the waves are calling me in. So I sit, silently nibbling on my banana, focusing my gaze into the water. Currents are strong and defiant. The water froths like billions of exploding soda cans. The waves fall heavily like white horses stampeding towards shore. I say a prayer into the wind, strap the surfboard leash to my leg and enter the breathing sea. Out there it boils down to the basics: What nature is and who you are. Nature, at its
purest and most raw level, has a way of putting you in place- a humbling reminder you are but human, at the mercy of a vast sea of overpowering elements. Paddling quickly through the water my heart is beating like a tribal drum. My focus is
undeterred, but something is strange. The water feels thick and it is getting thicker. Paddling is becoming increasingly ineffective and my arms are weighed down. I cease to move. Am I stuck? I tell myself not to panic. Thereby I initiate panic.
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Competition Kills! By: Izzat El-Hajj
not inherently a bad thing. One of the biggest mistakes earlier regimes committed was eliminating competition from peoples’ lives; the result was a devastating loss of incentive and a decline in society’s productivity and economic growth. Competition can be channeled in two different directions: it can be
And this is merely a microcosm of the professional world out there where the same things happen in different colors. Colleagues spread rumors about their fellow colleagues to ruin their reputations and gain competitive advantage. Employees withhold helpful information from their teammates to rise ahead of them in the ranks of the company. This should not be the way people treat each other! Competition on its own is
constructive, and it can be destructive. People who are constructively competitive compete with others by trying to improve their own performance and do a better job, yet still wishing the best for others. Meanwhile, people who are destructively competitive enjoy watching others trip and fall behind, and may even try to cause them to do so themselves. Maybe such feelings emerge from our increasingly materialistic perceptions of life – the
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Sometimes we hear stories that can be uncomforting about students giving each other wrong information or withholding resources from their classmates in preparation for an exam. The “raise” phenomenon doesn’t make things any better, but sets the stage for students to hope that their colleagues don’t do very well, thus lowering the average and making their own grades higher. Such a competitive atmosphere is not a very healthy one in a place where people come to learn and become positively active members of society.
people who are destructively competitive enjoy watching others trip and fall behind, and may even try to cause them to do so themselves
perceptions that humans seek to maximize their profits and increase their utility from resources which are scarce (two basic assumptions in ECON 211). This fuss about scarce resources is very peculiar in a world that produces enough to feed its entire population six times over! With such an attitude, or with that of wanting to maximize the welfare of society as a whole, we can come to view the people around us in two different ways. We may view them as our opponents who will beat us to those scarce resources and take them out of our way. This is the destructive type. We may also view them as our partners in this world, all working towards trying to make it a better place for us and for those around us. With such a disposition,
we would like to see our “competitors” succeed just as much as we would like to see ourselves do so. This is the constructive type. Prophet Muhammad once said, “None of you truly believes until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” In the global scope of things, the success of an individual will contribute to that of society, and that of society will contribute to the well-being of every individual in the society, so it will always come back and benefit us all. Enough with people viewing each other as opponents of one another, and enough with them trying to hold each other back. Poverty is our opponent. Jealousy is our opponent. Hatred is our opponent. As for us people, we are all partners.
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Amanda By Lojine Kamel
I’d never really known anyone who had died before – except for a little girl named Amanda, the daughter of a family who went to our local mosque. Looking back I only remember vague encounters with her, but then again she was five years younger than I, and having been diagnosed with leukemia at the age of six, had become quite shy and reclusive.
face as she answered. Come to think of it, it was a question I would have asked anyone, not realizing the meaning it might have held especially for her. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I had asked, hoping to instill some conversation in her. I recall her little hands clutching at the pink doll she always carried around, and her soft, barely audible voice whispering: “A mommy.”
What I remember most was one Eid long ago, when we had dinner with her family and her mother asked me to help cut up her food. She was about seven at the time, wearing a pink dress and a matching hat that helped to hide the fact that she had lost most of her soft blond hair. Stalling for conversation I asked her random questions to bide the time, like ‘what is your favorite color’ or ‘how is school going’ - nonchalant phrases to ease the awkwardness. I remember my last question so clearly, and the bright, hopeful look on her
Amanda died two years later, at the age of nine. I could not bring myself to attend her funeral. Death was still too new to me. Instead, I sat at home, mourning for so young a child, wondering about God and hope and life and everything. How could she have died? Why would God have let her? I suppose I was too young to answer those questions at the time. I don’t believe that anyone can answer the question: ‘Why?’ There really isn’t an answer, or at least not one that can appease everyone.
The beauty of life is that it is never ending people die, people live. And we remember. We hear about ‘God’s will’ and fate and destiny, but when it comes to someone you know, words of comfort are, in essence, just words. Faith on the other hand is inner and personal, something all our own. In time, I came to terms with the inevitability of death. Yes, Amanda died. But so would everyone, eventually. The beauty of life is that it is never ending - people die, people live. And we remember. I will always remember Amanda as she once was, before leukemia, before chemotherapy, before everything – just the jovial, bouncy, blond-haired Amanda. I know that her parents and brother will see her again, and that I will see her again too. I know that she will have a better life in the Hereafter and will become what she always wanted to be.
Fitting In By Ramy Mourad
We all want to fit in. Of course we do. It’s always easier to just conform to what pop-culture expects of you than to actually be yourself or do what you think is right. After all, it can be a bit scary and somewhat lonely to be the one who
“Yes” can seem liberating at the moment, but it’s not free. Sometimes we may even spend the rest of our lives paying the bill. stands out in a crowd. Peer pressure can have a
weird hypnotizing effect on us, where we find ourselves mindlessly nodding “yes” to its every vibe. It says jump, and we wonder how high? Whether it’s sex, drugs, alcohol, or just another round of video games, it’ll always be easier to just say yes to everything and anything. “Yes” can seem liberating at the moment, but it’s not free. Sometimes we may even spend the rest of our lives paying the bill. Saying “no,” on the other hand, is not easy, especially in a group setting. “No” usually means that you have to explain why. Explaining “why,” now that can be very, very uncomfortable. Have you ever been at a restaurant with a group of friends when you had to explain why you ordered a Pepsi instead of a beer? All conversation at the table stops and everyone’s attention is on you: “Dude,
what do you mean you don’t drink?” It’s such a horrible experience that even while you sit there sipping on your Pepsi, you wish you could go back and order that beer. Feeling like you don’t fit in can be very lonely, so to help ourselves out we start doing things we normally don’t do—sometimes even things we know we shouldn’t do. We don’t realize that covering up who we really are sends a message of shame. It’s like a bad smell. Worst of all, we’ll never really fit in. I’d be lying if I were to tell you that I don’t care what people think about me. I do care, but I care more about my selfrespect and
my beliefs. Let me explain why. I have to live with myself everyday for the rest of my life. People, on the other hand, they come and go. Self-esteem and happiness come from living our values. They give us inner strength. In times of trouble, if we’ve sold ourselves cheap just to fit in, we’ll have nowhere to turn. We’ll collapse upon our empty and hollow selves. Years from now, we won’t remember those awkward moments if we said “no,” but the consequences of having said “yes” will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Saying “no” to peers that pressure you, or to having a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or to leaving your religion because it’s not viewed as something “cool” will also not be free, but this time, there’s a lot that you can gain: self-esteem, because you will always respect yourself for doing what you know is right; selfworth, because you will feel valuable and love yourself for who you are; real friends, because they will support your decisions; parents and relatives, because you will have gained their trust and respect.
I’m Hot You’re Not By Sarah Zaytoun
Society is always changing. In today’s society, we have the need to conform. It is very hard to find your own identity when you are always trying to be someone else. After all, being unique in a conformist society can be quite difficult. Being a young girl and then turning into a young woman is not simple. Girls go through day-to-day obstacles that make them doubt themselves all the time. The media is the biggest manipulator. Every day they tell young girls how to eat, what to eat, how to dress, what weight they should be, what is cool and what is not, etc. So what can we do to stop this problem? Well, the first step is to allow young girls to free themselves from what the media tries to depict as true and “real.” Girls need to be aware that the models they see in magazines are far from real and are air-brushed to the maximum. Not only are
Girls need to be aware that the models they see in magazines are far from real and are airbrushed to the maximum. their faces air-brushed, but so are their bodies. They are transformed into complete perfection. The media tries its best to entice people into thinking how society should be rather than what society really is. Throughout my adolescent years, I always felt insecure about myself. Media and society did not make this easier. Watching T.V., I always tried to emulate celebrities. They seemed like pure perfection. Everything about them seemed to be
unattainable; whether it was the way they dressed, their body, or their “natural” charisma. I tried so hard for years to live up to these expectations. I had no idea what the media was about. The more people are made to feel insecure about themselves, the more people feel the need to consume. Consumption = making money the media wins. It is a very simple equation. The media’s goal is to send a common message to the world to entertain, not to inform. What some people do not understand is that we are all unique pieces of art. A piece of art can never be replicated to look exactly alike. We must embrace this fact by embracing our differences. We all have a common cause and want the same things in life: happiness, the ideal job, to find love, and have a good social life, but what should we do in order to reach our goals? This is where the six elements of self-fulfillment come in. These elements are: 1) Selfawareness 2) Self-esteem 3) Loving ourselves and then loving others 4) Censoring out elements of the media 5) Having a goal and/or a realistic dream 6) Taking action. To me, self-awareness is the base from which we can achieve our goals.
It is about understanding our capabilities and what we can accomplish. Selfesteem is something that has to be generated from within. A lot of people’s self-esteem is generated from other-esteem, which
is very wrong. We must be happy with who we are and accept all of our flaws and look for the beauty of our imperfections. In order to love others we must first love ourselves. That falls under self-esteem. The media portrays an illusion of reality. Not all parts of the media are detrimental. It is important, however, to censor the parts that are. Examples of these parts are the media’s take on body image and what beauty is. A major part of getting what we want out of life is to have a plan or a goal. Most importantly, having realistic goals will prevent us from facing major disappointment. Once you know your goal, take action!
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Drowning in Garbage By Moneer Moukaddem
Up ahead emerges a wall of water. It picks up speed and exponentially grows as it gravitates majestically towards the sky. I brace myself for the inevitable; it is a simple matter of physics. Crash. Crush. Roar. White. Thrust. Twist. Coil. I am swept clean off my board, eaten, and digested. The waves show no mercy as I struggle to maintain orientation. Sky up. Water down. The water is thick. It clings to my body and masks my face like sandwich-wrap. I need air. I take in water. A thought: pull at my lifeline the leash attached to my foot. Upon reaching my board I lurch forwards and tighten my grip. I vomit profusely. Shock subsides, and I come to realize the reality lurking in the water. Bags. The water is thick with bags. Hundreds and thousands of plastic bags. Later on that night, with the wonderful after-taste of
stomach juice now gone from the back of my throat, I overhear the broadcast on the eight o’clock news: During last night’s storm forty tons of garbage fell into the sea… A couple weeks later, I arrive at its base. I can see how it gets its name. Indeed, it is a mountain. The windows of our car are rolled down and I hold my breath. If I could, I would have refrained from breathing altogether. Mohamad el-Bizri, President of the Lebanese Diving Association and active member in the NGO Bahr Lubnan exclaims with sarcastic pride, “This, my friend, is Jabal Zbeleh.” Jabal Zbeleh is almost 15 stories high and 375 meters in length. It is speckled with whites, blacks and blues. Looking closely, one can distinguish containers, bottles, and bags. Tires and pipes and springs. Carpeting, vegetables, and animal carcasses. Ironically, life grows out from its side; little green shrubs with
Real Stories of AUB Students By Jamila Mehio
white and yellow flowers. The mountain seems too tall for its base. According to Mohamad, it is one million cubic meters in volume and grows 150 tons each day. To my dismal dismay, Jabal Zbeleh is in direct contact with the sea. Every time a waves laps at its base, garbage retreats with it back into the sea. One wave every 10 seconds, 8,640 waves a day. As my eyes trace the blanket of floating garbage I remember that day at Ramlet elBayda.
“How is it that nobody does anything,” I plead to Mohamad. “The reason for this disaster is simple,” he says, looking out at the horizon with squinting, thoughtful eyes. “It’s a flaw in our philosophy. Citizens and politicians see a problem, but to them it is not theirs. So they brush it off and walk away.” He turns to me, “Claim even the smallest of problems yours and take charge, before it becomes too late.”
Purpose Please! By Ali Harfouch Often, while we are painstakingly reading through a biology textbook or blissfully watching the sunset with a loved one, we are faced with a striking reality: Everything around us has a purpose. Be it the cells in our body, or the orbiting planets, or even the creases in our fingers – they all have a function. Socrates knew what he was talking about when he said, “This world appears in such a manner which gives no possibility to coincidence.” This becomes even more obvious when we observe that all these different creations are in perfect and fused harmony. The intricate functioning of our organs and the orbiting patterns of the sun and moon point toward a system that
cannot be ignored by the curious mind. For example, a car has several functions. The air-conditioning system, the engine, the windows, all of which are inter-dependent, all have different functions, yet the car and its parts have a united purpose: transportation. Similarly, one can say the same about our universe. Astrophysicist and Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias observed that “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say “supernatural”) plan.”
Every single constant and creation around us serves a specific purpose and functions around the stability and preservation of mankind. This realization leaves one with a deep
yet honest question: Are humans – one of the most intricately designed creatures– left without a purpose?
Cry and Shout By Riham Kowatly
I wonder what level our sympathy threshold will, in a few years, reach if we continue to watch excessive violence in movies. It’s no wonder we courageously look on at scenes of war and violence on the news; seeing them in large amounts in films has become the norm. We no longer cry and shout at the sight of blood. We are immune. One night, while praying in my dorms room, I heard a fellow dorms girl pass by, laughing hysterically. She
was drunk. I wonder why her laughter sounded like it had no joy in it, but a cry and a shout. At first, I did think she was crying. I wonder how much we can sympathize with people
who die in an airplane crash, an earthquake or out of hunger, if we continuously allow ourselves to watch individuals get blown up, thrown down, shattered, and smashed in every action movie.
next room to hear my mom cry and shout as her father, who had died the night before, was being prepared for burial.
We have forgotten how to cry and shout for lost souls. Our hearts are frozen.
We witnessed the first cry and shout as we were delivered. We can’t remember it. Yet, we might repeat it in life when we have our first born.
On October the 15th, 2005, I was by my only sister to see her cry and shout before giving birth to her first baby and was on the phone in the
Mothers cry and shout to deliver life; children cry and shout when they send into the ground the life that gave them life.
We will not witness the last cry and shout as we are delivered away. 7
Insight Club Shop for the Needy Event: AUB Students Shop for the Needy! A fundraiser for distributing food portions to needy families.
What Is the Purpose of Life? A lecture by Adam Deen discussing “What is the Purpose of Life?”
Is Religion Outdated? A discussion panel tackling “Is Religion Outdated”, featuring Adnan Rashid, Sary Farah, and Adam Deen.
Can There Be Morality without God? Adam Deen and Professor Raed Samaha debate “Can there be Morality without God?”
Prophet's Birthday Celebrations on Campus: Celebrating Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Man of Best Manners. Celebrations featured posters, stands, a concert, lecture, and documentary. Good values for a good life!
The 23rd Annual Book Fair featuring “The Beauty Myth” Jawad Nabulsi gives a lecture entitled “Happiness without Prozac” discussing 3 out of 20 ways to achieve happiness in a materialistic world، Students from different backgrounds discuss The Beauty Myth, its causes, effects, and possible solutions 8