How to Handle Your Spouse’s Depression

Dealing with a spouse’s illness is never easy. Administering patient, compassionate care—doing everything you can do while acknowledging your own limitations—can be draining, to say the least. This is all the more so when the illness in question is one that presents itself without any tangible, physical symptoms.

Mental illness is a prickly subject in general—still highly stigmatized despite being overwhelmingly common. Indeed, countless adults suffer with depression yet knowing how to help a depression patient remains elusive. When that depression patient is your spouse, however, it’s vital that you know how to respond with kindness, gentleness, and hope.

Understanding Depression

The first and best thing you can do to support your spouse is to understand what depression is—and what it isn’t.

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, one that can affect mood and behavior in a number of different ways. It is a real illness, diagnosable and treatable through medicine—and though it is not necessarily something that can be “cured,” it is something that can come in seasons, its symptoms ebbing and flowing.

Depression is not made up. It is not an illusion, and it’s not something that exists all in your spouse’s head. It is not necessarily tied to any external event, nor is it something that can be “fixed.”

The worst ways to respond to depression are with anger, judgment, or shame. You would not feel embarrassed or angry at your spouse if he or she was diagnosed with cancer or a broken foot; depression is no different.

Being a Team Player

As you seek to understand your spouse, and to offer compassion and support, remember that you’re both on the same team and you’re fighting the same enemy. The enemy is not your spouse. The enemy is the disease itself. The enemy is depression.

Invest some time in showing your support and your closeness to your spouse, then. Go on daily walks together. Make yourself available to drive your spouse to a doctor’s appointment. Let your spouse know that you are always available to talk, but don’t be pushy about it. Let your spouse open up to you when the timing is right.

Make Wellness the Goal

Of course, your spouse may not be open to talking, and in fact your spouse may not admit that he or she has a problem. That’s where things can get dicey, and where it may fall to you to encourage your spouse to get the necessary help.

For depression to get better, you’ll likely need a medical diagnosis and a treatment course. Gently encourage your spouse to seek a medical professional’s opinion about this. Don’t be aggressive or judgmental, but simply let your spouse know that you want him or her to feel better and to live a healthy and happy life.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

Another potentially prickly point: Telling your kids about the issue. Very young children may not be aware that mom or dad has a medical problem, and may not need to. Older kids will pick up on it, and it is important to speak with them candidly about it—giving them information that is age-appropriate.

What does this information entail, and where do you draw the line? That’s an individual decision to make, based on the needs of your youngsters. Talk it over with your spouse and do what you believe to be in the family’s best interests, remembering that open communication is always to be desired.

Show Patience

A final word of note: Depression treatments do not work overnight. They work over time, sometimes shakily and imperfectly. You and your spouse will need to invest in a long-term fight against the disease, which means remaining hopeful even when things do not get better right off the bat.

Patience, understanding, support—these are the keys. Hold them close as you help your spouse through this treacherous, yet never hopeless, condition.

 

Contemporary Means of Influence in the Muslim World

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The mutual mean of influence in the world are believed to be religions and media, as they have enormous superiority upon human mind and submissiveness. However, when it comes to the Muslim World, this notion has transformed into unorthodox means, which are influencing the minds of Muslims and Arabs in general. The amount of calamities, hardships, grievances, tension and violence has reshaped the characteristic of a Muslim individual in a way that makes him/her adaptive to the reality, but at the same time makes him/her unable to comprehend necessities and priorities. Therefore, without the ability to comprehend and acknowledge necessities and priorities, any human is exposed to numerous ideologies and tendencies, which are self-centric and rouge in nature.

To simplify these means of influence in the Islamic world at the current time, they can be categorized as following:

  • Religious preachers
  • Media & mass communication methods
  • Coercive & deterrent methods

These three categories are the primary means of influence in contemporary Islamic world at the current time, which are in full control over majority of Muslims in the Middle East, and even Muslims outside the Middle East as well.

Religious Leaders

Although, religion is one of the biggest factors in influencing masses around the world, the Muslim World is being influence by religious preachers and leaders, who are affiliates of the states and official governing institutions. According to some scholars, Islam and majority of religions are neither violent nor peaceful, as they are bodies of teachings and principles that preach for supplication and submission to an almighty entity. However, Muslims believe that Islam is a religion that promotes peace and prosperity, when majority of Islamic nations are filled with intolerance and violence in its most vicious type. Whether Islam is peaceful or a neutral religion that doesn’t promote peace nor violence, there must be a powerful factor in fueling such instability and violence in this region.

Although Islamic political parties are very active in modern politics of the Middle East, their influence has been active for decades, which has created alternatives for many citizens in numerous nations. Due to the inability of many states to meet standard life necessities and sever corruption and favoritism, these political parties were able to gain momentum through their social and financial networks. In addition, the states started to use the same method as a counter method to influence the masses as well. States have been using religious preachers as a way to contain their masses and gain extra dose of legitimacy in the face of their oppositions, whether Islamic or secular. Therefore, many of the Islamic principles and Quranic verses were taken out of context to legitimize specific policies and decisions, which has made the Islamic World into Muslim World, as Islam is barely evident in modern Middle East.

Media & Mass Communication

The twenty first century introduced many of the modern day methods of communication to vast majority of people around the world, and even rural destinations were able to access some sort of media as well. Therefore, the importance of guiding this specific method to guard the purposes and advantages of the states was very importance and necessary. However, mass communication methods and media networks were not exclusive to states anymore, as many independent groups were able to establish TV channels and media networks to present their own programs and agendas.

The current number of TV networks in the Middle East is believed to be anywhere between 600 and 1000 TV channels and media networks, and some of them are operating around the clock. These networks represent states, sects, religions, political parties, ethnicities, linguistic groups and ideologies in an attempt to gain as much supporters and sympathizers as possible. The notion of promoting a certain ideology or religion is entirely fine, as all individuals and groups are entitled to express themselves in all peaceful methods. However, the enormous amount to exposure is creating a new generation, which deciding to ignore its surrounding and isolate themselves. This notion is extremely dangerous, since it implications would enable states to cross all limits as a sizable portion of the population is deciding to sit aside and marginalize itself.

Coercive methods:

This method originally starts as a way to contain the masses and deter them from any notion of challenge, uprising, un-cooperativeness or opposition, which has been used by vast majority of Middle Eastern regimes. However, by adopting this method as a legitimate and continuous way to contain the population, the state will create a notion of abidance and subjective ignorance among its masses. Coercive methods will automatically program the masses to electively adopt the official position of the state as a legitimate approach, as any other decision will result in persecution, displacement and many others unpleasant consequences. Therefore, coercive methods and deterrent means have been the shortest path to influence the masses, although this method can be extremely catastrophic in case of revolution and regime change, as vengeance and grievance would prevent social advancement.

Unfortunately, global political tendencies and complex mutual interests have made the notion of transition and social development very hard in the Middle East, as the Muslim World is still in the phase of exploring priorities. Therefore, it will be a while before, actual transitions and transformations are witnessed in this part of the world.

College Planning: The Truth About 529 Plans

Parents of young kids are welcome to Google current information about college tuition risks, but please know: You do so at your own risk, and you’re unlikely to be pleased with what you find. It seems as though each day brings new, doom-and-gloom headlines about how utterly unaffordable college can be, how tuition hikes are so prevalent and how rates will only continue to go through the roof. It’s all pretty dire, and it’s enough to make even the most fiscally responsible of parents sweat a bit.

Of course, most parents are more than willing to save now—as best they can—to ensure their kids get a good education. They’re willing to make sacrifices. And they know that, one day, their kids might be able to get after-school jobs or earn good grades in school to earn scholarships, offsetting those high tuition costs just a bit.

But still: Reading up on current college tuition costs can be daunting, to say the least. What are parents supposed to do to meaningfully ensure a bright future and a bevy of educational options for their children? There are several options to choose from, but for many years the 529 college savings plan has been the consensus choice for the best educational savings tool.

The 529 at a Glance

The 529 college savings plan is an investment tool tied to a specific state or a specific educational organization; currently, almost all 50 states have their own 529 plan on offer, and though they are mostly the same, they do offer some slight variations. Students and families are welcome to avail themselves of any of these plans; a student in one state can invest in the 529 plan of a second state and then attend college in still a third. All of it is transferable.

Speaking very generally, though, all of these 529 college savings plans come with some pros and cons. The advantages of the 529 savings plan are, generally speaking, as follows:

  • Most obviously, 529 plans offer tax-deferred investments; withdrawals from your 529 will very likely not be touched by the IRS, though it is always best to consult the IRS guidelines directly to make sure there are no extenuating circumstances to think about.
  • When you invest in a 529 plan, you are, in fact, investing, just like you would in a mutual fund. Different states do it different ways, but your money will most likely be invested in stocks and bonds; odds are, the investment will grow more quickly than if you just put it all in a bank account somewhere. (As for where and how your money will be invested, that’s where it pays to investigate specific state policies.)
  • In most states, you can make your investment automatic; for example, you can establish the 529 to withdraw X amount of dollars from your bank account each month or each year, which makes for easy and hassle-free investing.
  • You can invest as much or as little as you want—unlike with many other college savings plans, like pre-paid tuition arrangements.

The Downsides to the 529 Plan

That may all sound pretty good—and it is! There is a reason why this is far and away the most recommended, most widely used college savings option. That said, there are some drawbacks as well:

  • The money you invest must be used for college—and if it’s used for anything else, expect to be served with a pretty major penalty fee.
  • It may affect your eligibility for financial aid—in other words, saving for college tuition can diminish the number of needs-based scholarships that are offered.
  • Your investing options are somewhat limited—but then again, this is true of most any college savings investment plan.


Still: For parents, this is as close to a college savings slam dunk as there is; it may not be the best option for everyone, but it’s certainly where parents should look first.

Time Management: Do You Have to Work a 5 Day Week to Be the Boss?

By Amanda (Contributor)
Edited by Ali Reza

The idea of being the person in charge and owning your own company is incredibly appealing to many people—especially because there is a belief that with entrepreneurship comes complete freedom. However, this idea of “freedom” is a bit ambiguous.  Any person who is considering going into business for themselves must realize some startling truths—prior to cutting their corporate ties.

You Can Work Whenever You Want—All of the Time

A typical misconception about self-employment and entrepreneurship is that a person ultimately has the freedom to work whenever they want—setting their own hours and calling the shots.  Now, understand that on some levels this might be true.  However, when you are just starting out, the reality is that you might end up pulling some very long hours, especially as you work to establish and grow the company into something that is sustainable.  “Entrepreneurs” who slack in the grassroots stages of a business oftentimes find themselves back in a corporate cubicle when their business idea crashes and burns.

At the same time, it is not a far-fetched dream to say that someday it might just be possible to work a part time schedule as the boss.  Should you get into the position where you have an effective and hardworking staff who knows what is expected of them, internal processes that promote productivity, and a healthy revenue cycle, then yes, you might just end up achieving enhanced work/life balance as a business owner—but you must realize that is a goal to aim for, not one that will be automatically achieved as you just start out.

Work/Life Tips for Entrepreneurs

Therefore, it must be asked: How can an entrepreneur successfully manage their time as they ensure that their business has legs to stand on?  Follow these tips to become a master of your own time:

  1. Recognize and respect your “prime time.”  Every person has a time of day where they are most alert and most productive. This might be early morning for some people or late at night for others.  One of the benefits of being an entrepreneur is having the flexibility to work when you are productive.  Work around your natural highs and lows.
  2. Set deadlines—and stick to them. Starting out, you might have fewer deadlines on a daily basis than that which you experienced while working in a corporation.  Nevertheless, don’t slack in this department.  Hold yourself accountable.  Being timely right now will help you establish a good reputation with your customers.
  3. Schedule downtime.  As we noted, it can be very hard to achieve work-life balance when you are starting out.  Therefore, schedule downtime into your days.  If you don’t take some time to relax, you will get burned out, and your work will suffer.
  4. Create a “No Work Allowed Zone.”  As an entrepreneur, you might spend time working from home.  In this regard, it is very easy to have this work continually spill over into every facet of your personal life.  Create a boundary zone where you do not respond to emails, you turn off your phone, and your files are set aside.
  5. Get enough sleep. It’s not necessary to elaborate on this point.  Ultimately, every person needs enough sleep to be successful—entrepreneurs are no exception to this rule.
  6. Create a to-do list a day in advance.  At the end of every day, identify what you must accomplish the next day and prioritize accordingly. Identify the phone calls you need to make, the projects you have to work on, etc.  Surprisingly, people who do this at the end of a workday report less anxiety and are more likely to sleep better because they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them the next day.
  7. Know the value of your time and be aware of “time vampires.”  Ultimately, as an entrepreneur you are in charge of your own success—you must identify what your time is worth.  Moreover, be aware of people or things that encroach on and abuse that time.  There is always going to be something or someone who wants your help (and your time) for free.  Identify who/what these things are and devise a strategy for keeping them in check.

In closing, it is definitely a good thing to be your own boss—but you should never start your own business with the idea that you will have complete freedom. Think rationally and realistically—and always work hard.  That’s the only way to ensure that you have the freedom to call the shots in your own life.

The Principles of Parenting

Every parent wants to do the best that they can in the raising of their child with the resources that they have available.  Parenting is one of the most researched areas within the incredibly broad field of social science—and interestingly enough is also an area where the results of studies have remained primarily consistent over time.  While people may define parenting in different ways, there are consistent principles regarding the art of parenting.

  • What you do as a parent matters.  One of the keys to parenting is to be mindful in your actions.  This means that you take an intentional approach toward your interaction with your child, and not simply react to situations.  Ultimately, the more you work to deliberately be a good parent and engage in positive parenting, the more instinctual it becomes.  Moreover, realize that you are going to make mistakes—it’s natural and part of the process.  Therefore, don’t beat yourself up over it, but own up to it and move on.  When a child sees that their parents are willing to take accountability for actions, this behavior is more likely to be mimicked.
  • There can never be enough love.  When a child feels continually and consistently loved, they will develop a strong sense of security and confidence in who they are as a person.  This will help them as they develop and grow, and ultimately, make them less needy.  However, understand that showing “love” doesn’t mean that you have to bribe or buy off your child.  Love comes in the form of physical affection, responding to emotional needs, listening, and praise.  It doesn’t come in the form of material possessions.
  • Make an effort to be involved.  One of the strongest indicators on the quality of a child’s mental, emotional, and physical health is based on the level of involvement of parents in the child’s life.  When you spend quality time with your child, you are demonstrating that their interests and needs are important to you.  This quality time does not only come in the form of attending extracurricular activities, like a soccer practice or a ballet recital, with them, but also being involved in their schooling, knowing who their friends are, showing an interest in what they are curious about.
  • Realize that your parenting style can adapt and evolve over time.  Your child is going to develop—physically, emotionally, and mentally.  This means that what they require from you is going to change as well.  Realize that your parenting style does not have to be rigid and unchanging, in fact, it needs to be flexible and fluid in order to meet your child’s unique stage of development.  Moreover, understand too that your child is unique, and what is taught in the latest and greatest parenting book might not apply.
  • Rules and limits must be set and adhered to.  Every child needs structure in their life, and therefore, kids need to have their parents establish rules.  Taking the time to set boundaries, establish what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior, and have a defined structure helps your child better develop the ability to manage their own behavior. This is especially helpful when your child transitions from only interacting with you and other family members, and starts operating in the external world with his or her friends and teachers.
  • Foster a healthy sense of independence.  As a parent, it is important for you to understand that your child must be able to successfully operate on their own, away from you and your influence.  You must create a situation in your home where your child is able to be autonomous and independent.   While you may have established rules and limits, realize that these things should not breed an environment of conformity.  If this happens, it will be hard for your child to assert himself or develop independent leadership skills.  Resist the urge to be a micromanager in your child’s life—allow them a say in how they do things and give them the chance to make their own decisions.

There is no more important job in any society than that associated with raising healthy and happy children.  In closing, know that you are doing a good job as a parent and feel confident in the decisions you are making.

The Apple Watch: What We Know So Far

By Amnda C. (Contributor)
Edited By Ali Reza

Whether you think it laudable or laughable, Apple’s upcoming foray into wearable technology is sure to be a big deal. The product goes on sale in April, and marks a new avenue for what is one of the world’s largest and most influential tech brands; early responses have been mixed, with some thinking the very notion of an “iWatch” cringeworthy and old-fashioned, with others banking on Apple’s solid track record and hoping for a revolutionary new product.

What needs to be said, amidst all of this back-and-forth, is that we still don’t know many details about Apple’s new wearable product. In true Apple fashion, a few scattered secrets have been unveiled while many specific questions remain unanswered. Nevertheless, there are a few puzzle pieces we can fit together—including the following:

  1. It will feature a number of big-name apps. As you can probably imagine, Instagram and Twitter and Facebook have all been working on their own watch-worthy applications. What may be even more exciting is the spate of highly pragmatic apps being developed by leading hotels, airlines, and travel companies—apps to provide instant flight updates, automatically unlock hotel doors, and the like.
  2. The Watch is made to be paired with your iPhone. You will be able to easily transfer messages and data back and forth between the two devices. In fact, most of the processing is going to take place on your phone, so you really need an iPhone for this to work.
  3. Some features will be available apart from your iPhone. If nothing else, you can store music on your Apple Watch, which will come in handy for those who like to jog.
  4. The battery life could be anywhere from a couple hours to all day. Though Tim Cook has said he wanted the battery to last all day, he’s probably not banking on constant, active use, which could drain the battery and wear it out in just hours. Chances are, it will last for the bulk of the day for most users, who likely won’t be actively tinkering with it around the clock.
  5. Anyone should be able to fit into an Apple Watch. The product is reportedly coming with a couple of different size options to accommodate most anyone’s wrists; each watch can be worn on either wrist.
  6. The look of the Apple Watch will be customizable. There are going to be several different bands available for you to choose from; they’ll be interchangeable, so you can pick a new look every day. These bands will come in steel, leather, and other materials. Expect to see gold options down the road.
  7. The purpose of the Apple Watch is to help you manage your life. In particular, you should be ready for plenty of apps and features focused on health and fitness. Financial and home automation apps are likely coming a bit further down the road.
  8. The Apple Watch is going to be highly Siri-centric. Evidently it comes with a new, extremely accurate version of Siri, or so Apple insiders would have us believe. Many consumers are, of course, skeptical of this.
  9. It’s not going to be cheap. The going price for the “sport” model—aluminum case, Ion-X glass—is $349. Those with deeper pockets can hold out for stainless steel and 18-karat gold versions, which will likely cost hundreds of dollars for the former, several thousand for the latter. (Exact prices of these future models are pure speculation at this point.)
  10. It’s going to sell a lot. Anywhere between 8 million and 30 million in 2015 alone, forecasters say—which is really pretty good for a product about which many remain skeptical.

 

Skeptical or not, you’re going to be hearing a lot more about the Apple Watch in the weeks to come—and who knows? If a portable, wearable, iPhone-linked lifestyle management tool is what you’re after, this may just be a product that turns your world around.

 

6 Tax Audit Red Flags

Here it comes.  April 15th.  The date otherwise known as the annual deadline for filing income taxes.  In the past year, the IRS has faced some significant budget cuts, meaning that staffing numbers have been reduced when compared to previous years.  That means that taxpayers across the country may face a lessened chance of actually being audited.  However, realize that this is a cautionary tale—and not everyone is going to get off so lucky.  Learn about the red flags that make your chances of being audited by the IRS higher.

Things to be Aware of

  1. If you run a small business—you need to be able to prove it.  It’s true that few people immediately make a profit when they start their own business, and a loss is acceptable by the IRS—at least up to a point.  If you start reporting losses for three years or more, the IRS is going to begin to assume that your “business” is more of a hobby and that you aren’t looking to make this a venture that will ever be profitable. This can ultimately activate a field audit, a process that happens one-on-one, in-person, and is significantly more difficult than a simple correspondence audit.   In order to avoid this, keep meticulous records that show that you were dedicated to your business, the time you spent on it, and other supporting materials.
  2. If something looks odd, explain it.  The IRS searches for instances of unreported income, so if you look to explain something in advance that looks off or odd, you reduce your risk for being audited.  A for instance: your net income is low. In this regard, include a statement that explains how you handled yourself financially—whether you ran up your credit cards or tapped into savings, etc.  Providing this information can help in the long run.
  3. Report all of your income.  The majority of your wages are going to be found on W-2 forms.  Interest, dividends, and capital gains will be reported on 1099 as well as income you earned through contracting or freelancing work.  Realize that these forms are not only sent to you, but also to the IRS, and there is an automated process that is used for ensuring you have reported these documents. Therefore, don’t pretend you didn’t receive something—the IRS will send you a bill in the mail for any additional amount that you owe, and the agency has the right to garnish your bank account and seize property.
  4. Report any money overseas.  U.S. taxpayers who have bank or investment accounts abroad are required to report any income they earned on these accounts to the IRS.  Moreover, a recently established law, called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, means that a foreign financial institution might start reporting this income to the IRS directly.  If you have had an account for several years and have never reported it to the IRS, you could face some serious penalties and back taxes if the agency catches wind of it.
  5. Watch the home office deductions. Most people have one primary office, either on company property or in a home.  Therefore, don’t report a deduction for both if you cannot explain why you have two offices.  Moreover, if you have a primary office through your company that is available for you to use the majority of the time, it’s recommended that you skip taking a home office deduction at all. It’s a huge red flag.
  6. If you sold your home, report it.  The title company will end up sending you and the IRS a 1099-S form that records the proceeds from this sale.  Even if all proceeds are tax exempt because they don’t exceed federal limits, it’s necessary to report the information on the 1099-S anyway.  This again comes back to the fact that the IRS matches forms through an automated program and not reporting this could trigger a correspondence audit.  While you may very well be in the right, it’s still a headache you don’t need.

In closing, an IRS audit is a headache that no one wants to deal with.  As the April 15th tax deadline approaches, make sure you consult with a trusted and ethical accountant to protect your interests and ensure that you are following all of the rules to a “t.”

Prisoners & Victims of Conscience in History

Shia Muslims

By Hussein Al-Rumaithi

In 1961 when Amnesty International was founded by Peter Benenson to draw attention toward human rights abuses and mobilize international attention toward this matter to put pressure on states and government to end these violations. Rights of women, children, slavery, human rights and prisoner of conscience were among the primary focuses of this organization. However, this noble cause has failed to address the historic aspects of these violations to numerous reasons, which include political sensitivities and complexities. Therefore, as a result some of the oldest violations in these aspects have been marginalized and sidelined, which has minimized the effectuality of such organizations in some parts of the world. When it comes of human rights violations and prisoners of conscience and persecutions based on belief and right of expression, Shia Muslims can be identified as the first victims of such violations and atrocities.

Regardless of the sectarian and theological division that segregates Shia Muslims from rest of the Islamic world, the rationales behind oppressing this large minority are beyond apprehension and tolerance. The first type of oppression against Shia Muslims began through verbal labeling and decrying, which was the notion of identifying the Shia Muslims as infidels and REJECTORS (Rafidha). Assigning such a demeaning label to Shia Muslims was a preparation for physical elimination and persecution, which lasted centuries and resulted in displacement, death and imprisonment of millions.

Persecution Based on Assumption and Allegation

Modern political accusations, which are used to penalize and persecute an individual or a specific group are not as modern as we think they are, a historical facts indicate they have used in the past to eliminate groups and individuals. During the time of Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan, governor of Syria during the time of third Caliph Othman Ibn Affan, and later on raged a war against Imam Ali, these political accusations were used to eliminate and persecute the followers of Imam Ali. When this man became the Caliph of Muslim and established what is today considered as the Islamic Empire, he formed an entire force to pursue, find, imprison, torture and kill the followers of Imam Ali and Shia Muslims. History books mention that Muawiya ordered his forces to arrest people based on assumption or even a fabricated accusation, and persecute them. Therefore, what is considered as human rights and freedom of expression in modern day definitions was oppressed and banned during the era of this man.

During the time of Hajjaj Al-Thaqafi, the notorious governor of Iraq during Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan (The Umayyad Caliph), Shia Muslims and their leaders were arrested and punished only for being Shia and followers of Imam Ali. Sunni and Shia traditions narrate incidents and events, where this man arrested entire tribes and killed them due to their belief, and how this man pursued the leaders of Shia communities and humiliate them and killed them in cold blood.

History is filled with events and incidents that mark the earliest cases of human rights violations and prisoners of conscience, who were penalized for their belief and religious affiliation. Therefore, if modern human rights organizations and groups are serious about gaining credibility among oppressed populations, they should consider acknowledging these historic grievance and condemn them to certify these types of violations through all times. Political tendencies and complexities have existed and will remain, as means of legitimacy and survival justify the methodologies of states. However, acknowledging a specific violation whether historical or contemporary shall not create sectarian tensions and instability, as there is no intention to blame these atrocities on an entire sect or religion.  

How to Talk to Your Spouse about End-of-Life Plans

By: Amanda C.
Edited by Ali Reza

Thinking about the end of your life and what will happen after you pass away is never a pleasant thought.  However, facing the fact that no one lives forever is something that every person must come to terms with.  Moreover, this is a conversation that must be had in the open with a spouse or loved one.

It is a reality that broaching this topic with a spouse is something that many people do put off.  However, realize that it is an important part of the process as it pertains to establishing advanced directives about medical care and end-of-life wishes.  Just as loving couples talk about their hopes and dreams, it is also important to discuss the items that are considered less than pleasant.  Realize that you might not need to actually face any of these issues for a very long time—but that it is better to prepare 20 years too early as opposed to one day too late.

Why It’s Important to Talk about These Wishes—and Record Them Legally

It’s one thing to talk about end-of-life wishes, but it is equally important, if not more so, to make sure these  are recorded from a legal standpoint.   If you do not have healthcare or medical directives logged in a legal capacity with an attorney, and cannot make decisions for yourself because you are incapacitated, someone else has to make these for you.  In this circumstance, those decisions may not coincide with your actual wishes.  At the same time, if you have passed away without a Will, Living Trust, or other estate planning documentation in place, it could be necessary for the courts to decide on the administration of your estate—and your preferences for burial, cremation, or other types of memorialization may be overlooked.

Preparing for “The Talk”

Next, it is necessary for you to prepare for having “the talk” about end-of-life wishes with your spouse or loved one.  Keep the following in mind:

  • Acknowledge that this is a process.  This is not something that is an item on a to-do list.
  • Realize that your spouse might disagree with you on points. This is okay.
  • Understand that you cannot plan for every scenario or circumstance.  Plan in a general sense.
  • Think about your own beliefs, values, and preferences in your life right now and how these apply to the future.  Write them down so you can organize your thoughts.
  • Identify the things that you do and don’t want—if you are incapacitated medically as well as what happens to you after you pass away.
  • Understand that it is never too soon to begin this process.

Talking with a Spouse

After you have decided what is important to you, then it is time to talk with a spouse. There are certain items that must be discussed and decided upon.

  • Who should make decisions for you or your spouse if faced with incapacitation?  This relates to healthcare matters as well as financial decisions. This may or may not be the same person for both of you.
  • What medical treatments or care are acceptable to you?  Is there anything you fear?
  • Do you opt for resuscitation if your heart stops or you aren’t breathing?
  • Do you opt for hospitalization? Or do you prefer to stay at home, or somewhere else, if you are terminally ill?
  • How will care be paid for?
  • What do you wish to happen to your remains after you die?  How do you wish to be memorialized?

Once you have identified answers to these questions, it is then necessary to record them legally.  An attorney can help you with this.  Then, once documents are drafted, ensure that children or other loved ones or caregivers know about them, so they can be accessed if needed.

 

Shia Muslims & Notion of Idealism vs. Realism

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Shia Muslims present themselves as one of the biggest oppressed minorities on the face of this planet, as they have been the victims of extinction, marginalization, elimination and discrimination at its most brutal forms. In addition, oppression and grievance have been part of a Shia Muslim’s individualistic nature, which has made him/her adaptive to some of the most unbearable conditions and calamities. However, there has been numerous attempts by various Shia groups to refine and improve the conditions of their fellow Shia Muslims throughout the course of history. These attempts were either unsuccessful or depraved from their goals, and no improvement was resulted from their success, which in some cases ended up being catastrophic for Shia Muslims as well. Therefore, some scholars and observer (Muslims & Non-Muslims) are presenting the notion that Shia Muslims are following an idealist approach, which is costing them much more than what it is worth, and no outcome is even guaranteed.

Are Shia Muslims idealists?

Generally speaking, idealism is the notion of understanding and presenting the world as it might or should be, or in another term the opposite of pragmatic presentation of the world. However, according to Shia Islam the world is divided by evil and good, and the power of will and intellect enables humans to distinguish between the two, through the help of guidance (messengers). Therefore, the world is capable of being all good, and noble values and norms are able to prevail regardless of evil’s power and superiority. However, to accomplish a state of tranquility and prosperity requires patience, diligence, missionary efforts and establishment of inner societies based on noble values to be used as examples and models.

Nevertheless, one of the notions that differentiates Shia Islam with any majority of other beliefs, is the rejection of ‘purpose justifies the mean’, which is used to legitimize many actions and policies for a specific cause. Therefore, it is technically right to claim Shia Muslims are idealists, as they have stuck to their values and goals of a utopian like society, when reality indicates accomplishing such a society is next to impossible.

Are Shia Muslims Realists?

Although it would be correct to consider the Shia Muslims as idealists throughout their struggle ever since their emergence as an independent sect in the Islamic world, their ability to cope and adapt to the political realities of their time is respectable. Shia Muslims have been able to accept their role in their societies and acknowledge their inferiority, as an oppressed and marginalized group. Therefore, they have adopted numerous methods of assure their survival and continuity through a set of political and religious means to evade extinction and further elimination.

  • Taqiya: this term translates as ‘dissimulation’ in English, and its meaning is, the notion of someone hiding his/her belief if he/she faces dangers like physical elimination or sever bodily harm. This mean has been presented by Shia Imams, as a method to ensure the safety of Shia Muslims in societies with Sunni majority, as Shias were persecuted and punished for their belief.
  • Tribal coalitions: This type of conduct was feasible in places where there were sizable Shia population, but they still needed some sort of protection. Therefore, creating a policy of collective security and protection, was done through tribal coalitions. This type of coalition secured the stability for Sunni tribes, as their regions was not going to be raided by the regimes, and it enabled Shia tribes to use their coalition as a mean of deterrence in the face of tyrants and regimes.
  • Migration: Although this method was affiliated with great amount of sorrow and grievances, as migrating to remote places was an indirect mean of marginalization, but it ensured the survival of many Shia Muslims. There are large numbers of Shia migrators to modern day Lebanon, Persia, Yemen and North Africa, as the regimes were persecuting Shia Muslims for their belief.

These are the three major methodologies that were adopted by Shia Muslims to ensure survival and security, which have been successful, as currently Shia Muslims are totaling up to 250 million in the Islamic world. Therefore, realism was the doctrine adopted by Shia Muslims to cope with their situation and deal with their conflicts, as they acknowledged their weaknesses and their inability to fight and challenge the state.

However, this mixture of doctrines that was adopted by Shia Muslims can be identified as an extra weakness as well. Unfortunately, Shia Muslims were never able to unite and establish an entity for themselves to protect their existence, as they were afraid to show their presence and gatherings, fearing they would be identified and persecuted. This notion has even affected their jurisprudential rulings. For example, the Friday Prayer is one of the symbols of Muslim unity and power exposure, but fearing that conducting the Friday Prayers would gather the Shias in one place is not a safe move, many scholars and even late Imams, placed this worship as an un-obligatory deed.