Kuwait, Musings, News

Congratulations, Kuwait: Not Only Are You Fat, You’re Also an Environmental Hazard

Okay, forget the world’s mass dependance on oil. Forget the insane levels of toxic, industrial waste we pump into the air. Forget the fact that the Arctic is pretty much melting at the speed of light now. Forget all that.

Because now that Kuwait is in the news (once, twice, thrice) for its damn near suicidal eating habits with very little signs of slowing that train down (Cheesecake Factory, what hath you wrought?), I’m thinking its time to try a different awareness approach.

That’s right: I’m going totally rogue and playing the environmental card.

Because, as it turns out, the real problem that the environment faces today is fat people. Yup, our ever expanding hindquarters are going to make a mess of this planet very soon if we don’t change things. How wonderful is that news? So on top of having your mother’s (your nutritionist/your annoying ‘healthy’ friend/your conscience) voice nagging in your ears to opt for the flavor-less ‘Guilt-Free Menu,’ you can now enjoy the added pleasure of knowing that you are actively destroying the Earth. Mmm! Appetizing!

And don’t think that just because you’re not a member of the morbidly obese that this doesn’t apply to you. Because it does. It applies to everyone–myself excluded included.

You see, the total weight of ALL of the world’s population comes up to something near a cool 316 MILLON TONS. Of this unfathomable number, about 17 million tons are due to people being overweight and about 3.9 million tons are due to obese people. Those are freaking tons, you guys. Quantified in MILLIONS. I don’t even know how I can begin to envision these numbers in real-time. Seriously, just trying is starting to give me heartburn.

Now, on a global scale, the average body weight clocks in at about 137 pounds (62 kg) which is an admittedly okay number for us to work with. But if we’re going to be looking at Kuwait specifically then we have issues.

Considering that 61% of all the world’s weight comes from Asia (not surprising since its the largest continent land-wise) and that 13% of the world’s obese weight is also Asian, Kuwait’s consistently high-ranking position on this list of fatty-fatness is nothing short of unbelievable. With nearly 70% of all men ranking among the overweight (according to CNN) in a country which is sizably smaller than most cities, Kuwait is easily winning the coveted position of numero uno as Asia’s fattest country. On a global scale, Kuwait’s obesity quota is perhaps only bested by Ronald McDonald’s homeland–America–which brings in an enormous 34% of the world’s obese weight.

So you’re probably wondering what all this guilt-tripping has to do with the environment. Well, as it turns out, when it comes to environmental sustainability “its not how many mouths there is to feed, its how much flesh there is on the planet.” Because the more you weigh, the more calories you end up using when you move around, and the more calories you use the more of the world’s natural energy resources get used up as well and so, by the transitive property, your weight directly influences things like the freaking ozone.

And on top of the fact that our larger bodies require us to use more natural energy, they also lead to our sedentary lifestyles IN WHICH EVERY HOUSEHOLD HAS LIKE A DOZEN CARS. Which–guess what–leads our weight to committing even more environmental crimes because, if you didn’t already know this, cars have a very big appetite for gas.

So kudos, guys–we’ve totally nailed the ‘two birds, one stone’ concept with this weight deal.

But, hey, don’t get me wrong here. This is not some holier-than-thou attempt to guilt-trip you all into joining a gym (although, you know, do that). Cause the fact of the matter is that, according to the experts, “actually, we’re all getting fatter.” Every last one of us.

I just think that if there is one thing we can ALL take out of this criticism–if “We’re all fat!” is even a criticism–its this: instead of mentally berating everyone who is above 62 kg and calling them a fatty-fat, Earth destroyer, we should all make a better effort towards understanding the larger consequences and the impact of our choices. From how we transport ourselves from Point A to Point B, to the choices we make while waiting in line at KFC (and, hey, that rhymed!). Because, without that deep-rooted, global awareness, we’re always going to find ourselves hovering in the ‘Top 10 List of Global Fatsos’ no matter how many gyms we join, or diets we go on, or stomachs we staple.

Or, you know, we could all just move to Japan instead.

All my love!

Beautiful, Kuwait, News

S.P.E.A.K Stands Up For Mental Healthcare (and for My Bipolar Friend)

A few years ago, I discovered something about a friend of mine: I found out she was suffering from a bipolar mental disorder. We were taking an introduction to psychology course together in university and so the subject of mental healthcare in Kuwait naturally came up which also naturally led to her admitting to her own personal ordeals with the system and with having to grapple with a bipolar disorder in Kuwait.

She shared with me her frightening bouts of suicidal notions that were, for the most part, completely beyond her control. She shared with me the endless battle she faces with her psychiatrist as they try to find the right “cocktail” medication to help her keep relatively stable. She shared with me the extreme difficulties she faces with completing her degree while under the influence of these heavy, mixed, and irregular bipolar episodes.

She also shared with me how almost all of her extended family members, friends, and even her professors tended to brush off any cries for help, and simply decided to treat her legitimately medical illness as a non-excusable dramatization which they were just forced to tolerate.

She let me know about the endlessly long and ultimately fruitless road she and her parents had to go through in order to try and secure real, useful medical support through the Ministry of Health (she’s Kuwaiti). Due to a very lacking governmental support system when it comes to mental healthcare, my friend and her family were forced to go it alone and look elsewhere for medical guidance and support.

I’m honestly beyond baffled by the maze of half eaten cookies people in Kuwait have to follow in order to get legitimate mental health treatment (never mind affording it). In Kuwait, mental patients (and their families) have to navigate a completely uncoordinated system all on their own when the reality is that they’re the ones least capable of doing so.

Identifying the illness, knowing what kind of treatments to try, finding a psychiatrist, a therapist, and whatever other treatment methods you’re going to try, then paying for most of it yourself: these are all things that, for the most part, my friend and her parents had to figure out and provide completely by themselves. I can’t imagine any other serious medical patient having to go through such an ordeal without hardly any form of outside assistance.

The reason I bring up this whole story is because tomorrow, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. So if there’s ever a time to talk about how Kuwait needs to be more aware and educated about what mental health truly means its now.

Thankfully the S.P.E.A.K organization (Standing for Psychological Education and Awareness in Kuwait) was created for the sole purpose of doing just that. Creating an open forum for people to both ask and answer questions about the realities of both living with and treating mental illnesses is something which is very necessary to enhancing Kuwait’s social and medical environment. Removing the stigma and building truly compassionate care and support around this issue is an increasingly vital change that Kuwait needs to make if it hopes to make any kind of progress both on the medical and the societal fronts.

This year the S.P.E.A.K organization is holding a CSR (corporate social responsibility) event in Salwa Al-Sabah Hall both on October 10th and 11th. The event will feature experts form Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as Kuwaiti mental health experts. It is both open to professionals and the general public in the hopes of creating a conducive learning environment for everyone.

If you can, please be sure to stop by at this event and learn more about what true mental healthcare is supposed to look like, listen to people’s experiences, and help make Kuwait both more aware and better equipped to provide the compassionate care that this medical issue deeply requires.

All my love!

Beautiful, Musings

No Gimmicks, Just Truth.

We don’t just need people to be aware and to donate and to blindly follow one gimmick after the next. We need people to get proactive. Please get checked for breast cancer and encourage others to do so. That is the best way you can help make a difference.

اللهم ارحـــم موتانا وموتـــــا المسلمين واشــــفي مرضانا ومرضا المســــلمين

All my love!

Beautiful, Kuwait

WHITExpo: Think Think Think, Give Give Give, and Buy Buy Buy!

Look, who doesn’t enjoy a good deed? (Take a seat if you’re Hades or Gargamel, the evil smurf wizard) Seriously, there are fewer things more enjoyable in this world than knowing that you are participating in an act that, thanks to little ol’ you, is going to possibly draw a smile on someone’s face or make things change for the better.

And when an opportunity comes along for good deeds to be reaped, you know that I’m going to want to share it with all of you.

Enter: WHITExpo.

In a nutshell, WHITExpo is almost exactly what it sounds like. An expo in which items and products are sold by local businesses and entrepreneurs.

Almost.

See, what differentiates this expo from the gazillions of others that seem to crop up like wildflowers during this time of year is the following:

WHITExpo is building the theme and the overall concept of the expo around the worthy cause of environmental awareness. It is committed to making a positive change in the way people perceive environmental health and hopes to create a more proactive approach towards environmental preservation in Kuwait.

Also, there are orphans involved which, if you ask me, is a cause so deeply meaningful that even Atila The Hun could stand to shed a few tears for it.

You see, WHITExpo is going to feature a piece known as “The Make A Wish Tree” from which hangs the wishes of several orphaned children. The purpose of this tree is to allow the visitors of the expo to look at the simple wishes of these innocently heartbroken children and perhaps put a little brightness in their world by making a wish come true for them.

Are you reaching for the Kleenex box yet? (If not, then you’re probably sitting there with that sad pursed lip, wrinkled brow look)

So, sure, WHITExpo is, by most standards, an expo just like any other. Except it has the foresight to not only want to make Kuwait buy, buy, buy (our natural instinct, of course), but to also make it think, think, think and give, give, give.

All my love!

Everywhere Else, Musings, News, SAY WHAAA...!

Just Because I Want To #StopKony Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Want to #StopAssad

Since I’ve posted about the KONY2012 campaign and my immediate, heart-wrenched response to it, I’ve gotten an email. Basically it was one of the readers of this blog kind of reprimanding me for posting about Kony and “forgetting” the plight of the Arab world.

I thought: Hmm. Okay.

When I first read this email I couldn’t really make a clear connection between Kony and the Arab World. The problems that are going on in the Arab World are, for the most part, political. Kony is a non-political issue. The tragedies that are occurring in the Arab World are being caused by the rulers and lawmakers themselves. The Kony tragedies are due to a gruesome, offshoot rebel group. And, the biggest difference that I found was that the issues going on in the Arab World and the crimes of their rulers were widely known, while the unbelievable crimes of Joseph Kony were, up until three days ago, completely hidden to the entire world.

But in an effort to understand where this reader was coming from, I tried to find a way to make these two issues meet. And I only came up with one conclusion: Both in the case of Joseph Kony, or the murders going in the Arab World (whether it be Syria, Palestine, Bahrain, or anywhere else) a mass humanitarian crime is being carried out right before the eyes of the entire world for a very extended period of time.

And that, understandably, ticks a lot of people off. Myself included.

So let me make one thing clear. Just because the world needs to pay attention to Joseph Kony and try to stop his endless reign of crime, that does not mean that they should turn away from the humanitarian, en masse MURDERS (that number in the tens of thousands) which men like Bashar Al-Assad or Benjamin Netanyahu are wholly responsible for.

Evil and crime is, no matter what anyone says, evil and crime. There is no better evil or an evil that needs to take precedence over another. We should be setting out to stop it however we can, whenever we can, and wherever we can.

Another thing that people need to take notice of is the fact that different problems require different solutions. You can’t exactly stop someone like Bashar Al-Assad in the same way that you can stop Joseph Kony. A president of a country cannot be removed or defeated in the same way the leader of an army rebel group can.

Joseph Kony needs to be found and turned into a matter of GLOBAL interest without any delay. Bashar Al-Assad is not only a visible and global name but he’s meeting up with all kinds of diplomatic figure-heads AND NOTHING IS HAPPENING. So, clearly, outside intervention is not going to pay off when it comes to stopping Bashar Al-Assad as it definitely will when it comes to stopping Joseph Kony.

Social networking and raising awareness has done its part when it comes to the tragic events going on in Syria and the rest of the Arab World. Now, if anything, the millions of brave souls that are fighting over there know that their lives are not in vain and they will always be reminded of the worthy cause that thousands of them have already died for. We need to keep circulating the information about what’s happening in Syria and reminding people of Bashar Al-Assad’s evil not because we want to spark global interest and foreign involvement (we already have that) but because that is the support that the brave Syrians need right now.

So please do not focus your attention on stopping any one single mad, murderous, and power-hungry man. Please #StopKony, #StopAssad, and #StopNetanyahu. In short? #StopEvil.

All my love!

Beautiful, Everywhere Else, Musings, News

Tyler Perry’s Open Letter to Penn State “Survivor”: A Subtle Nudge for Everyone Else

Tyler Perry is a huge media mogul. When it comes to Hollywood, according to Forbes he’s the King of the Hill. He’s got so much influence and such vast resources that he could easily jump-start any charitable or awareness organization within minutes if he wanted to. But now he’s done something better and something even more important: he spoke up.

In light of the massive child molestation and sexual abuse scandal which was recently uncovered at Penn State, and the global coverage which the trial of charged sexual predator Jerry Sandusky recieved, Tyler Perry wanted to take the first step towards real change and awareness.

And all he had to do was write a letter.

Being a victim of rape and sexual abuse himself, and openly discussing the trauma of his experience, Tyler Perry has already opened the door for discussion of an issue which happens to one in four women in college. Now he has released an open letter to an 11-year old boy who was sexually abused and raped by Jerry Sandusky.

The power behind this letter is not solely based upon Tyler Perry’s heartfelt words (as strong and beautiful as they are). This letter is important because Tyler Perry did what everyone involved in this horrendous scandal now wish they could have done: use their voices. Tyler Perry has the power to start organizations and charities but he took a step in this letter which, in my opinion, outdoes such efforts (which are, of course, very admirable). In this letter Tyler Perry made a conscious decision to help remove the stigma attached to such a heartbreaking incident and demonstrated how we should all willingly open our eyes to such devastating problems and stand in solidarity against them.

If Tyler Perry, one of the world’s busiest producers, actors, directors, and GOD KNOWS WHAT ELSE has the time to write a lengthy, meaningful letter and speak up about an issue that truly does need to change now, then we all can. Whether its social, political, cultural, or humanitarian, we all need to start taking a stand for the issues (sexual abuse and otherwise) which are ruining the world every single day and, just like Tyler Perry, start using our voices, already. Because even when no amount of words could ever change the sad past, it can keep it from recurring in our future.

Here is Tyler Perry’s open letter to the 11 year-old “survivor”:

I don’t know your name, but I know your face. I don’t know your journey, but I know where you are. I am your brother!

I must tell you, what you have done is so courageous. The strength that it must have taken for your 11-year-old voice to speak out about such a horrible act is something that I didn’t have the strength or courage to do at that age.

I was a very poor young black boy in New Orleans, just a face without a name, swimming in a sea of poverty trying to survive. Forget about living, I was just trying to exist. I was enduring a lot of the same things that you’ve come forward and said happened to you, and it was awful. I felt so powerless. I knew what was happening to me, but unlike you, I couldn’t speak about it because no one saw me. I was invisible and my voice was inaudible.

So to think that you, when you were only 11 years old, spoke up—you are my hero! I’m so proud of you. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I want you to know you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault. Please know that you were chosen by a monster. You didn’t choose him. You didn’t ask for it and, most of all, you didn’t deserve it. What a huge lesson that was for me to learn. Your 11-year-old self was no match for wicked, evil tactics of this kind. You were hunted like prey. A pedophile looks for the young boys he thinks he can manipulate. The ones who have daddy or mommy issues, the ones who are broken, and the ones who are in need. But this wasn’t you.

Do you know that at the young age of 11 you had more courage than all the adults who let you down? All of the ones who didn’t go to the proper authorities, all of the ones who were worried about their careers, reputations, or livelihoods. All of the ones who didn’t want to get involved. Or even the ones who tried to convince your mother not to fight. You are stronger than them all! I wonder what they would have done if it were their own child.

I had a few of those adults in my life, too. They knew and did nothing. One of them even said to me that it was my fault, because I allowed myself to spend time with the molesters. And yes, this was someone who was in power and could have called the police, but instead this person allowed this criminal to go on molesting other young boys for many years. When I did tell a family member, I wasn’t believed. I suffered in silence. But not you, my young strong hero, you have done what many of us wish we could have done. You used your voice!

You know, now that you’re older you need to be aware that the aftermath of abuse may affect you for a very long time. But that’s OK; just know that the strength it took for you to talk about it then will help you get through it now. I often tell myself that if I made it through that experience as a child, then surely as a man I should be able to get past it. It still may take you a while, but that’s OK too. I have known people who have gone through the same things that we have, but unfortunately they were never able to admit it, and it destroyed them. They never went for help, and they let the abuse defeat them. Some of them went to prison for crimes, some are addicted to drugs, and some have even committed suicide. I know that none of these things will happen to you. You are too strong for that!

No matter what happens next, just know that the hardest part is over. I wish the coward and very sick individual who hurt you would have the courage to admit his wrong and not put you through a trial. But he will most likely profess his innocence until the bitter end. And probably, all the while, yelling at the top of his lungs about all he has done to help troubled young boys.

You may have to go through with that trial, and you may feel all alone when you’re on that witness stand, but just know that there are millions of young boys and grown men who are standing with you—including me. If every man who has ever been molested would speak up, you would see that we’re all around you. You may not know all of our faces and names, but my prayer is that you feel our strength holding you up. You will get through this; you’ve already endured the worst part at age 11. Now fight on, my young friend, fight on! We are all with you.

All my love!

Beautiful, Musings

Flash Mob for Syria: Another Awesome Way to Deliver a Global Wake-Up Call

A freeze flash mob took place a couple of days ago at a mall in Toronto in solidarity with the Syrian humanitarian crisis going on right now under the current, oppressive regime of dictator President Bashar Al-Asad. In response to the civilian protests and their call for democracy which has been going on for the last 9 months President Bashar Al-Asad has submitted his own people to countless brutalaties which have already lead to the death of 4000 people.

This is an impressively imaginative and shockingly direct way of forcing people to look around already and start taking notice of the severe case of humanitarian crisis which Syria is tragically suffering right now. Just like Rafeef Ziadah’s spoken word poem (which I posted about earlier), these kinds of heartbreaking and tragic messages can’t pass the world by unnoticed at the expense of the lives of the thousands upon thousands of innocent victims which continue to suffer everyday due to the world’s collective brain-coma.