This I Believe

Kamal - Irvine, California
Entered on February 26, 2007

Generational gap

I had been invited to give a talk on the cultural gaps to the new generation of a group of stateless immigrants who seem to value their own cultural heritage and that of the host country equally. After some thoughts about the deepest gap among mother-daughter, mother-son, father-son, and father-daughter, I concluded it was the latter that required more public awareness. Because of time constrains, I was unable to investigate the subject systematically; instead I decided to discuss a recent published letter sent to the media by a young woman, how the people had advised her, and how her situation was similar to the situation of a society that was denied the right of self determination.

As I recall, the letter had stated: a young hard working, decent, self sufficient, persistent, tender, yet tough young woman and her three sisters had been brought up in a supportive family by a traditionally nurturing mother and a righteously fighting father. They had become the target of brutal attacks by four violent boys in their neighborhood. The older daughter had hit one of the boys in the groin who subsequently had lost one of his testicles. From then on her sisters had looked up to her. Since her father had joined a major corporation, he had given up his fight and insisted her daughter should marry one of the sons of the owner of the corporation. He had repeatedly called the expectation of her daughter, to have choices and become independent, an unachievable dream.

In response to her letter, people had given this young woman various advice such as: Listen to your father, keep your and your people’s honor, nothing is worth losing your father, stay with your parents but don’t give up on your dream, respect your father’s opinion despite disagreeing with him, make some compromises, don’t break the bridge with your father, have the last word for marriage, analyse every step and every minor decision, stay strong, stands for your rights even against your own father and do not give up the fight, don’t go against your will, set an example for others, become educated, think about the new age for women, do whatever you think is right for you, go ahead with what you truly believe in, believe in yourself, be yourself, make your decision, and remain tender yet tough and persistent.

Finally somebody had made an interesting analogy between this young woman’s life and the situation of her people: She had compared the four sisters to the four parts of her homeland, the boys to the central governments controlling those parts, the father to the employee of one of those states, the boy she had to marry to the dominant ethnicity and culture, and the lost testicle to one of the overthrown regimes. She had recommended that the young woman should move on and do what a liberated individual or society would do.

I concluded that the ideas of determining one’s own destiny by avoiding victim mentality and by promoting freedom, responsibility, assertiveness, optimism, peace, and equality is a universal dream that many have fulfilled it and others will do too. With this in mind, I recommended that independence would be the way to go. The majority of our 21st century audience that consisted of old and young, male and female, covered and uncovered, as well as doubtless and doubter confirmed the analogy, conclusion, and recommendation by a big cheers and a loud applause.

I believe the gathering itself and the confirmation of the main points was evidence that bridging the gap was already happening. It seemed that regardless of age, gender, and world view most people ultimately welcome the new generation’s persistence to fulfill their individual’s and society’s dream on determining one’s destiny independently.