Turning into a cynic?

Some definitions of the word cynical:

• Believing that people are motivated by self-interest
• Distrustful of human sincerity or integrity,
• Doubtful as to whether something will happen or is worthwhile,
• Bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.

I don’t know about you, but those definitions make me cringe. I don’t want to be a cynic and quite frankly I don’t think I like cynics. I am saying “I don’t think” rather than flat out say “I don’t”, because I never flat out dislike personalities unless the personality is hateful or disrespectful and even in those cases there is still
a chance to change.

Back to cynics. I have seen my thoughts evolve over the years. That is expected. With time change will occur within ourselves, otherwise what is the point of life if we are not changing, growing and evolving to a better person-hopefully. But there is one change that I found in my own thoughts, which I am not happy with.

I’ll use an example to demonstrate this evolution that I have witnessed occur in me. Perhaps you may have come across this story. It is a story that I have seen over the years used by people of faith. I have seen it used by Christians, Hindus, and Muslims.

The story goes like this: There once was a girl walking down a dark alley, when she sees a suspicious man standing at the end. She says a quick prayer asking for God’s protection and continues to walk down the alley, right past the man and straight home. The following morning she reads in the newspaper that a girl was raped in the same alley only 20 minutes after she’d gone through. She goes to the police to see if she can lend a hand. She correctly identifies the rapist in a line-up and the police department thanks her. She asks the police to ask the man one question: why he hadn’t chosen her and he replies that she had two tall men walking beside her down the alley.

My reaction back then: After crying a bit, okay, perhaps I cried more than just a bit. I was so touched at the beauty of this story and the power of prayer, the beauty of miracles. God is Most Great, I must have screamed if I remember correctly!

My reaction these days (and these days I mean the recent 2-3 years): Get the heck out of here! Cute story, but certainly fake. To entertain the story even for a bit, one I can’t get over the rape of the other girl in the story. So she didn’t read a prayer and she was raped? What are we saying here, if she read a prayer she wouldn’t have been assaulted? How many good, praying and honest women have been abused, raped and assaulted? (And the questions go on and on, just from a simple story).

You see! What has happened to me? I miss the old me. The one that used to be touched by such stories or pictures, and feel all good inside. That is a good feeling you know. Not this person that has a million questions. Not to say I don’t have faith and I don’t believe in prayers. I do have strong faith and do pray. God is Most Great I do believe. And I do believe in miracles, that God is capable of all things. At the same time that ability to be easily touched and inspired has been replaced by a lot of questioning and mental debating. In other words am I turning into a cynic? The verdict is not in my favor.

Another case demonstration. Recently I saw this image:

For those that don’t know what is occuring in this picture. These little children are “performing” the act of prayer, which is a major pillar of Islam. Small children as these in the picture don’t pray, but often times act out the prayer after seeing adults perform it.

After seeing this photo, a million different thoughts could have entered mind. I could have thought: aww such beautiful and innocent children. MashaAllah, look at those chubby cheeks. They are so adorable (and they are adorable kids).

But NO!

What did I think instead: Ahh shucks they have started them out early didn’t they? The gender roles are already at play. Girls you are in the back, boys you are the leaders. What sort of message will this send to girls? Stay in the back! I do hope the parents are teaching their girls leadership as well and to be at front, not back when it comes to life. These are only very small children and probably siblings, what is the point of separating them at such an innocent age? Prayers separate men and women, not little babies!

You see what I mean? It’s just a simple picture of adorable children that demonstrates one of the tenants of Islam! There is nothing more here! Just say mashaAllah and move on already! Why must my mind complicate things?

For those that love to reach conclusions by no means am I against the segregation of the genders in prayers and by no means am I advocating that women become Imams or prayer leaders. I don’t support that in my understanding of Islam. I follow the traditional scholarship that prayers be done separately and not be mixed, although I don’t support and dislike the structure of mosques that we generally see that put women behind closed walls, which is another topic that I plan to write about soon.

Now that I made that clear, I am only highlighting the over-kill like activity going in my mind. I’ve seen this happen over and over again.

I have always prayed in the women sections and have always seen men lead prayers yet never for one second have I ever entertained the thought that men were superior to women. I do love my religion and do believe Islam champions the rights of women, Muslim culture on the other hand not so much.

Further I am not saying that will be the message to young girls from this picture and from the activity of seeing men lead prayers. However unless young girls receive strong messages that encourage them to be leaders and to be confident in themselves then the message that they are weak and have inferior abilities compared to their brothers will be enforced in their impressionable minds. So yes if messages are not given in context, then something as simple as this mock act displayed in this photo could have profound implications on the development of these children.

This post was never intended to be about gender roles, but rather the evolution of overthinking that I have seen in myself. I don’t know if that makes me cynic. I never want to be a cynic.

I am glad I still do cry at touching stories and movies the same even if I have over the years lost the childlike simplicity and faith I once had.

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