By Lahsini Elhoussine
By Lahsini Elhoussine
Morocco World News
Casablanca, May 8, 2012
This is a reflection on Omar Bihmidine’s article, The Cruelty of some Moroccan Fathers. First, I would like to correct some concepts before delving into details.
Culture does not determine the nature of human relations because it is a product of human active interaction within a particular environment. So, in this case, culture is a collective product that only people determine its nature, and it can’t possibly be a cause because it’s an effect of human behavior, which is questionable and changeable.
This means that the problem does not lie within culture itself as a predesigned way of life, but it lies within those who can’t deconstruct and reconstruct its nature, a nature through which they could perceive and establish relations with the world around them.
People don’t cling – consciously or unconsciously – to their own culture simply because it is a heritage of their parents and forefathers, but because they unquestionably accept it as such. This is the real problem. When we accept something, it immediately becomes a part of our social reality.
In Islam, we emphasize that the role of children towards their fathers should be a role of respect and admiration. This can be logically accepted in a father-son relationship only if the father respects and admires his son too. We can’t say that a son should respect a father who does not exchange with his son a mutual respect and vice versa. The value of respect does not only originate from Islamic doctrines, but particularly originates from human nature.
The overestimation of the father particularly in Morocco is primarily cultural. The patriarch in the Moroccan society symbolizes a super-authority, which resembles that of God. He pre-designs the future of his children and even their attitudes towards themselves and towards him. This traditional role of the father, who in one way or another creates for himself a law to maintain his power over children, has been portrayed in many Franco-Moroccan literary works, such as Driss Chraibi’s Le Passé Simple.
The father’s exploitation of his own children is not a free choice and can’t be in anyway associated with our culture. As I mentioned previously, it is society that shapes and determines human’s relations. Take for instance the pervasive illiteracy and poverty and other social diseases as one might term them. I don’t think that a father enjoys sending his children to work. A child is a father’s heart.
Fathers can’t send their children to work at an early age only when life grows harder and harder on the family. A father is not by nature sadist to earn a meager salary out of his poor child’s work. Do we speak in Morocco about a rich and socially stable father’s exploitation of their children? The answer in any case will be no. A fact which reinforces my argument; studying the social situation of the father determines his behavior towards his children, either poor exploiter or rich care-taker.
It would be unwise of the author of such an article to describe fathers by the term mass-ignorance. Mass-ignorance does not mean a lack of proper university education and getting high degrees, which one would be all the time possessed with. A Father’s exploitation of his children has nothing to do with either being educated or ignorant about the matter since caring sprouts out of human’s feelings and emotions. I would venture to say again that fathers don’t enjoy sending their children to work for the sake of welfare.
It would be very simplistic of the author to give some examples without going back to the source of the problem and studying it. The author is no different from an engineer or a doctor. The doctor, for instance, does not prescribe medicines for his patients without being sure of the kind of disease they suffer from. The same thing applies to the author of this article who gave readymade judgments of ‘fathers’ exploitation’ of children without analyzing the social reality of such fathers and the so-called exploited children.
I wonder why should a father indenture his children and transform them into private property. To say that a father enjoys exploiting his children whereas ignoring the type of life they all together lead makes no sense. Why should we look at the phenomenon from one particular angle and ignore others? Why should not we have a holistic vision of the problem?
In fact, I would not reduce a big problem as such to one institution, which is that of the father. Why should we not extend our analysis to the causes of the problem, which the institution of society has a big share in and is it to blame as well?
The father and his children are both victims and are not to blame the way we should blame society. To whomever you say “I have not the slightest idea why we always raise the issue of the satisfaction of parents, and not that of children. The latter too need to be equally satisfied” will feel that there is something wrong either with the statement or the one who utters it. Why the focus is put on the father himself and not the people who employ the children? The employer is probably another part of the oppressive society, who on the one hand has no responsibility as a citizen towards the child and also greedy to exploit on the other hand.
The status of the father in the Moroccan society has been often portrayed in novels like “For Bread Alone” and also “Le Passé Simple” to mention but a few as a representative of God on earth as Driss in Le Passé Simple puts it “Vous étes un homme de dieu… saint, descendant direct du prophète, dieu le bénisse et l’honore!.”But one should not be a conformist to such a literary and critical stand. Those novelists who labeled the Moroccan patriarch as an exploiter, sadist lord did not themselves give alternatives to societal reform through studying the origins and the roots of the matter in question.
El Houssine Lahsini is an MA student of “Moroccan American Studies” at Hassan II University/ faculty of Humanities/Ben M’sik, Casablanca. He holds a Bachelor degree in ‘English Studies’ and Licence Professionnelle in ‘English Language Teaching (ELT) from Chouaib Dokkali University-El Jadida. His is interested in applied linguistics, postcolonial studies, Gender Studies and Historiography.
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