Deviance or Difference?
by Rima Turk
It was couple of weeks ago when we had the misfortune in the family to lose my aunt’s husband. According to our traditions we had the funeral second day and we started accepting condolences in a segregated setting where women were gathered apart from the men.
A male friend of mine – though a Lebanese as well but he belongs to a different culture - who knows no one in the family but me, wanted to pay a visit for condolence. When he was there, he directly walked in to the female area shook hands with me and exchanged some appropriate words of support and care for the sad occasion.
All were shocked of his daring act. I heard lots of criticism about his so called inappropriate behavior which contradicts our norms. Though I tried to justify his act by mentioning that maybe he is not familiar with our culture and in his own culture such occasions are done in a mixed setting and it is all relative, but still and under the pressure of my family members I was influenced by their opinion and was upset from what he did.
I called him later on to tell him that his act was considered deviant and it caused kind of embarrassment to me. He didn’t react which made me understand that he was aware of our cultural norm. He just said one thing; “Rima, I know no one from your family. Why should I act or pretend condolences to people I don’t know! What’s the function of me being there if I will not be able to see you personally to express about my sad feelings directly to you and support you by being next to you in your hard time?”. What he said made a perfect sense. It changed all my perspective.
I realized that deviance is not always a negative act. It can always bring change as well in the society, as far as it is not breaking a law by getting engaged in crime. What my friend did made me think that cultural norms are not necessarily sacred. They can always change with time and maybe they should. I also thought that maybe even the...