Untangled: The community of me

Untangled: The community of me

By Maram Behairy

In conversations about cultural diversity, the example of the melting pot versus the salad bowl is often used. As a society, are we a melting pot where each person loses their unique identity and we merge into one? Or, are we a salad bowl where each person maintains their unique identity and we mix in a beautiful display of colors and flavors?

This blog post is not about society, but about individuals. As it turns out, each person is not just one homogeneous thing. Each person is a mix of several internal voices of which we are mostly unaware. Maybe this hidden dialogue comes to the surface at critical moments requiring a decision. For the most part, however, we go about our days thinking we are just a tomato in the salad of society.

Without this level of awareness, our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors seem haphazard. While Allah SWT granted us free will, we cannot fully access our freedom if we are at the mercy of all these internal voices. If we are unaware of how our human system works, then we are unaware of how to make a clear decision and ensure our thoughts, emotions, and body will obey. Many self-help gurus and religious leaders speak of self-control and discipline. The truth is, there is no long-lasting and peaceful way to control yourself without self-awareness. Even then, it isn’t so much self-control as it is healthy self-regulation.

If we think of our internal world as a community in and of itself, then we can begin to understand various ways a community is governed. A chaotic community with no leadership is haphazard, inconsistent, and volatile. If my community is governed by my fears, then I will behave in predictable ways to ensure safety. If my community is governed by pleasure, then I will behave in predictable ways to ensure those experiences. Is my community a brutal dictatorship, a benevolent monarchy, or an egalitarian democracy? Once we begin to untangle the voices in “the community of me,” we can then appoint the proper leader and have a more harmonious inner world, which will translate to a more harmonious outer world.

About the Author:

Maram Behairy is a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and heads the writers’ group of South Florida Muslim Federation

‘I like to understand the bigger picture, deeper reasons, and nuanced connections. I have always been more interested in the roots under the ground than the fruit above. I complicate and explore in order to find the simple, deep truths. I live those with conviction. My dream is to use my gift for words to inspire and guide others to live with purpose and greater ease. So as I experiment on myself, I will share what I learn along the way. My roles in life (by default my areas of exploration) include being a Muslim, woman, wife, mother, writer, and youth mentor.’  

Have a question for the author or want to reach her? Email her at maram@soflomuslims.com.

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