Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Life in Exile Essay

Life in Exile Essay

The life in exile inevitably evokes a lot of problems an individual should face. However, often people are unprepared for numerous difficulties they may face, while being in exile that makes their life absolutely unbearable. In this respect, it is important to underline that people are forced to live in exile and if they are exiled they are forced to abandon their native country against their will. At this point, it is possible to draw a lot of examples when people were exiled because of political or religious reasons from such countries as Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq. At the same time, the exile of an individual is accompanied by the dramatic change of his or her socio-cultural environment. In such a way, the exile becomes a turning point in the life of an individual which changes absolutely his or her life since an individual is forced to start a new life in a new environment. In such a situation, many exiled people are unable to adapt to new environment and suffer from significant psychological problems, including depression. On the other hand, it is possible to argue that exile is not absolutely negative since it can offer new opportunities for an individual. What is meant here is the fact that an individual can start an absolutely new life in a new country. Therefore, exile, being a very controversial issue, can have both positive and negative effects on an individual. On the one hand, the exile violates basic human rights of an individual and leads to serious psychological as well as socioeconomic problems, while, on the other hand, it can enrich his or her cultural and social experience.

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On analyzing the problem of exile, it is important to focus on causes of exile in order to better understand its outcomes and effects on an individual’s psychological state and his or her social position. As a rule, an individual is exiled because of various causes but the essential element of the exile is the fact that an individual is forced to leave his or her country or certain region where he or she used to live. In such a context, the pretext of exile may be even less significant than the exile itself. Nevertheless, the actual cause of the exile may affect the life of an individual dramatically. For instance, the cause of exile may be the political activity of an individual or his religious beliefs, which are different from those of the dominant political or religious force in the country. As a result, the ruling regime attempts to get rid of an individual, who disagrees with the dominant ideology or policy. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the example of Afghanistan under the Taliban rule, when many people were forced to emigrate from the country because of the difference in their religious views or because of their political position. In such a situation, an individual standing on a democratic ground and defending his position actively was likely to be either eliminated physically, though imprisonment or murder, or exiled. The latter measure was applied to individuals who had a considerable public support and imprisonment or murder of such people could provoke riots within the community. This is why, the ruling regime preferred to exile such people. At the same time, many people escaped from the country in order to avoid imprisonment or death and this was also a sort of exile for them because they moved to another country and they were forced to do so because of their beliefs and personal position or disagreement with the ruling regime.

Obviously, the exile is a very convenient tool for an undemocratic regime, but this measure produces a dramatic impact on the life of a person. In fact, as a person is exiled because of his political or religious beliefs, he attempts to move to another country or region where his beliefs and ideas will not be oppressed. In this regard, western countries, such as the US, are often viewed as a kind of the Promised Land because the well-developed democracy provides all people with equal rights and, what is more important, civil rights and liberties are really protected in these countries. In such a context, the exile, if it results in the migration of an individual from a country with a authoritarian regime to a democratic country, such as the US, may be viewed as quite a positive advancement in the life of an individual.

At first glance, such an exile provides an individual with larger opportunities to defend his views and beliefs. The life in exile should become practically ideal when the individual’s civil rights and liberties are not oppressed and if such oppression was the major cause of exile. It seems as if the exile turns to be realization of dreams of such an individual about the life in a truly democratic society. However, the actual life in exile is not as perfect as that. In stark contrast, the life in exile and the fact of exile itself should be viewed as a huge cultural shock above all. This is actually why people cannot bear the life in exile.

At this point, the causes of exile are still very important because the person, being expelled from his own country, cannot achieve his goals which actually led him to the exile and which became the major reasons for exile. For instance, an individual, who has different political beliefs, can face a risk of being exiled from an undemocratic country, such as Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. At the same time, the person is exiled only when his political opposition affects consistently the position of the ruling regime. For instance, the organization of political meetings or the development of public movements and any other socially significant activity which stirs the society or even local community is dangerous for the ruling regime. On the other hand, this activity is extremely significant for an individual because through such a protest he can convey his position to his countrymen and through the organization of public opposition he can potentially change the general situation in the country or even overthrow the ruling regime.

However, the exile deprives an individual of such opportunities. Moreover, the life in exile makes him unable to conduct any social or political activity which can influence his countrymen consistently and, therefore, being in the exile, an individual cannot change the situation in his native country at all. In such a way, an individual becomes totally isolated from his native country and his socio-cultural environment. Such isolation is particularly difficult for people who used to be active opponents of the ruling regime.

At the same time, it is necessary to remember about socio-cultural aspects of the exile. As it has been already mentioned above, the exile leads to the socio-cultural isolation. This means that an individual who starts his life in exile is not prepared for such a life. In other words, he is taken from his native socio-cultural environment and put into a new one, which may be totally different from his native environment. For instance, the exile of an individual from Afghanistan to the US will inevitably lead to the tremendous cultural shock caused by the enormous gap between traditional Afghani culture and traditional American culture. Even if an individual is exiled because of his political views and beliefs, it does not necessarily mean that he will feel comfortable in a new country such as the US. To put it more precisely, the change of socio-cultural environment inevitably raises the problem of the integration in the life of the new society in which an individual is forced to live. At this point, major difficulties arise because an exiled individual does not have social and cultural experience of the life in a different environment. Instead, he got used to live in a specific socio-cultural environment and the basic norms and standards he got used to are not observed in a new socio-cultural environment. For instance, in an individual is exiled from Afghanistan and moves to the US, he will definitely feel uncomfortable because of the dramatic difference of Afghani and American culture, since Afghani rigid, conservative, Islamic culture is absolutely different from American one, which is traditionally quite a liberal culture.

At the same time, difficulties may be provoked by possible communication gap for many people who are exiled have poor language competence. Therefore, they can hardly communicate with other people in a new country when they are exiled. In fact, the language competence may be one of the major factors that define the life of an individual in exile because it is the major tool with the help of which an individual can find his own place in the new community. The situation is particularly difficult if there are no other people belonging to the same ethnic and cultural background that an exiled individual. As a result, an individual turns in a complete isolation from the outer world because there is no community he can associate himself with and he cannot communicate normally with other people because of poor language competence. The situation is deteriorated dramatically by his inability to maintain contacts with his native country, while in some cases the exile means the separation of an individual and his family. Obviously, in such a context, the life in exile is terrible and all the problems which have just mentioned above can lead to a profound psychological crisis and depression. As the matter of fact, the life exile often becomes purposeless if an individual fails to start a new life in a new country through the integration in the new community.

On the other hand, it is necessary to underline the fact that the life in exile is not totally negative and it may have some positive effects. First of all, the exile means the change of the environment but this change should not be viewed in a negative context since it brings an individual in a different environment. The new environment may be indifferent to an individual but it will be not as hostile as the environment from which he escaped or was forced to move from. Obviously, a political immigrant, for instance, is likely to feel more comfortable in a democratic country such as the US, where he can support any political force he likes, instead of the political repressions in an undemocratic country, such as Afghanistan under the Taliban rule, for instance. Consequently, an individual will live in exile in a more convenient environment compared to the one he used to live in. At any rate, he will not face a problem of political repressions.

Furthermore, the life in exile and in a different socio-cultural, political and economic environment provides an individual with a valuable experience which he could have hardly acquire in his native country. What is meant here is the fact that, while living in exile in a well-developed democratic country, an individual can learn basic principles of life of the civil, democratic society. This experience may be very important in his further life because the exile can end one day and an individual may have a chance to return to his native country. In relation to people exiled because of their political beliefs and ideas, the experience acquired in developed countries can help consistently make a successful political career after the end of exile and return to their native country. At the same time, an individual acquires important socio-cultural experience which is also very significant for him because it broadens his views consistently. The acquaintance with a different culture enriches the spiritual world of an individual. As a result, he can combine his traditional moral values and cultural norms with new ones. This can help an individual become more tolerant in relation to representatives of other ethnic groups and cultures as well as the cultural difference can help an individual better understand his own uniqueness and find his cultural identity.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the life in exile is very difficult because it is inevitably accompanied by numerous problems and difficulties an individual will need to overcome, especially at the beginning of the life in exile. In this respect, the cultural shock, the separation of an individual form his native country, the inability to maintain contacts with his countrymen or even relatives, the lack of opportunities to participate in the social life of his native community are probably the most serious challenges an individual can face during his life in exile. In fact, an individual has to start a new life in exile. On the other hand, it is necessary to remember about certain benefits of the life in exile. Obviously, the life in exile is more secure for an individual because it deprives him of numerous threats he could have faced in his native country. In addition, the life in exile brings an important social and cultural experience for an individual lives in a different environment and he can learn a different lifestyle that naturally enriches his internal world. At the same time, he can use this experience in his further life and, what is more, he can extrapolate this experience on the life in his native country on the condition that he returns there someday. In such a way, the life in exile is highly controversial and it can have both positive and negative effects. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the life in exile is a serious test for an individual and it is up to the individual either to pass this test and succeed or fail.
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