Everything has a meaning. It is up to us to acknowledge a practice or values we hold, determine its meaning based on simply knowledge and life experience and the level of importance of bringing it into ones life. Following or participating in a particular culture, we have to compartmentalize certain traditions based on religious beliefs and social expectations and also bring together universal traditions that have a deep meaning connected to how we choose to live our life on a daily basis.
Being part of the community that strongly believes in keeping up Afghan cultural values and traditions, the process for implementing those values that have a historical past in Afghanistan and practicing current societal expectations and demands of America can be a challenge. The biggest challenge of implementing Afghan values and morals standards outside Afghanistan is for young adults as many of them don’t have a point of reference. Sure, parents can be great role models for today’s young afghans, however, it is their peers they learn the most from. The majority of Afghans under 30 years old ( most afghans fled after the Cold war in late 1970’s) were born outside Afghanistan and have only the culture of whichever country their families migrated to. Some have adopted that culture as their own as daily life might have warranted it. This Is easy to do, however, it is up to the parents to teach them and guide them and instill those values they were raised with and witnessed for most of their lives, they will have something to pass down to their own children as many of us are experiencing parenthood and demanding careers. We are trying to figure out our own bi- cultural identities so that our children have a strong frame of reference and avoid confusion of what is truly important in ones life regardless of any cultural identity, such as education. As Aforementioned, peers play a great role in our cultural beliefs and practices, and being involved and part of a local Afghan community becomes key. Local Afghan communities are usually structured by family association and business.
For Afghans to live a balanced cultural life, their faith, family orientation and values, Afghan cultural traditions (we all love to do the Attan!) and current societies expectations and innovations have to come into focus and prioritized. Today’s young Afghans are lucky to be able to pick and chose what they like about each culture they are apart of to implement within their own lives and their future families. Living bi-culturally has great benefits as we are the agents of change within both societies. In the American society, we can educate and live as Afghan role models that our grandparents and their parents as well as our own, would be proud of us regardless of how we labeled ourselves culturally. Being bi-culture can create a deeper understanding of a different society and its practices and being the bridge that helps understand and accept oneself and each other. Being able to choose cultural traits of our family background and our daily life, we have to dig further to understand the meaning of what is cultural and what are merely our habits and what is important to us and our faith and family?
Young Afghans get to create their own culture. We get to ask ourselves, what is important to me? What do I like about our culture? What do I do everyday that’s part of my current culture and meaningful to me? What do I want to teach my future kids and practice daily as a family? Faith should play a big role. This is our responsibility to our children and theirs as Afghanistan might merely become a word to them without personal association. It is important to keep this identity alive as it has so many beautiful cultural traits and traditions that include our faith and the togetherness of family and creating love for each other. This is what a balanced life looks like, whether you want to call it Afghan or something else.