The Bottomless Cup

Month: September, 2010

Not so Funny: How we Fuel Intolerance in our Daily Lives

A friend of mine once said that I should become a script writer for South Park. Yes, I am infamous for racist jokes; they always seem to crack everyone up. They are also a way for someone with limited sense of humor such as myself to make everyone laugh. Yet I don’t really find it funny when the media or my friends make fun of Pakistanis or Muslims. No matter how good a sport you are, making fun of your heritage and race can never feel good.

I know, we all think that we incapable of being truly racist. I mean we still hang out with people from all races, and think we don’t treat them differently. We overestimate ourselves. In fact, we overestimate the good that is built in to our humanity. My ethics professor says that ethics can is learnt, and that it is a person’s conscious decisions that makes one ethical.

Let’s face it – we all get our kicks from jokes based on cultural prejudices. The Lahore-Karachi jokes, the terrorist Pakistani/Arab Jokes, the African American “hood” jokes etc. We think of them as nothing more than jokes. What we don’t realize is that these jokes are spread again and again, until the cement themselves into our general stereotype. Aren’t you more likely to think that a terrorist attack is done by a Muslim? or that a stingy person is more likely a Jew? Or that a person from Karachi is less Pakistani than a Lahori? I am not saying that humor is responsible for this, but it can propagate this. I am sure a part of you believes that the person cracking that racist joke believes in what he or she saying to a small degree.

The same goes with how we are just “okay” with intolerance when it comes to suffering of others. We have become “okay” with migrant workers being treated as ghosts in blue as we walk between classes. We have become okay with them not being able to go movies, or be integrated into our daily lives. These little things can truly make the world better. Preposterous lapses in our humanity such as islamophobia or antisemistism don’t happen over night. Gradual increases in our intolerance makes us forget why things get so far.

Yet, when Muslims are mistreated, we believe that we are being insulted. I would like to direct you to the video that has Keith Olbermann addressing the “Ground Zero” mosque issue:

I feel like a hypocrite writing this, because I am a part of the problem I have described above. Therefore, all I am saying is that one should be conscious when one does such actions, because they are just a microcosm of something much bigger. Being politically correct really does do wonders.


The Third Culture 1: Musings of a Global Nomad

I would first like to apologize to those few who read my blog regularly for the lack of updates. I’ve been busy catching up with this semester’s work as I had joined college a few days later due to my lost passport. I hope to write regularly again.

The fact that that some of my blog readers have called me an “American Puppet” who posses a very western view of the world didn’t help either. Those who possess such a view have certainly not understood the purpose of my blog, as it attempts to find common patterns of humanity regardless of any political ideology. Sadly, ideas such as human rights appear western to us.

Speaking of patterns, I am taking an introductory course in sociology this semester. As my final project, I am going to study the lives of Third Culture Kids (TCK), particularly the common patterns of seclusion, indecision and delayed adolescence. This is something personal to me, because being a TCK myself, I have seen how frustrating it can be trying to fit in to one particular culture, and how your varied interests lead to confusion.

The term “Third Culture Kid” (TCK) is defined as an individual who, “as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture.” (Eakin). When I first started the study, I asked Maheen (my sister) about how she felt her life was different being a TCK, especially when we first moved from Germany. The first thing that she said was that she felt she was more childish than our cousins and other children our age. I remember us being called “Germany kay Janwaar” (The Animals from Germany) because were considered more immature and hyperactive than other kids our age. Apparently, this trend is prevalent across most most TCK’s because they tend to be restless individuals whose varied exposure and mobility leads them to crave for excitement in the most childish way.

Having lived more than half of my life outside Pakistan, I still identify with the most and try to hold on to the Pakistani culture. Yet, I don’t believe I truly fit in anywhere. The only people I can identify with is other TCK’s and thank God so many of the students in Education City are like me.  In the time I have lived in Pakistan, I’ve barely made any friends but I continue to try. Over my three years in Education City, yesterday was the first time I attended one of the all-Pakistani Eid events and had a blast, thanks to the generous hospitality of Basit & Navid’s parents. However, I continue to be uncomfortable in an environment of a single culture, but I think I am getting there!

I’ve tried very hard to fit in, but I guess its okay as long as you have other TCK’s like you. TCK’s aren’t better or worse than non-TCK’s, we’re just different.

I am still not sure how much my introversion plays a part in this, but I can definitely relate to the stories of other TCK’s I read about online.

I will be doing extensive research on this and will continue to report my findings.


Eakin, Kay Branaman. “ACCORDING TO MY PASSPORT, I’M COMING HOME.” US Department of State Document Archives (2004).