My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XII. Individualism versus Collectivism. Friendships
There is also a great difference between the two of us as far as it concerns the togetherness of our respective original families. Bashar tries to keep his nine siblings on a “safe” distance, because he does not like their scrutiny and interference in his life. Nonetheless, several of them live in adjacent houses and are quite aware of his actions and engaged. Abu Omar, one of his brothers, is involved in his life more than the others are. They are in touch almost daily. His mother as well lives next-door, and may bring food or help with cleaning. His father died many years ago. I find the way his family functions attractive because of its ongoing supportiveness, though I can see how this closeness also could smother. I love visiting Bashar’s home and family and do so frequently. I feel connected to his family in such a way that it is noticeable. For example, Abu Omar and one of the workers in the garage both commented about me being like part of the Abu Sahra family.
By contrast, I meet my original family face-to-face once a year in the Netherlands. I speak with my four brothers through Skype on birthdays and occasionally in between. Like Bashar, with some brothers I have more contact than with others. The conversations with my brothers are usually frank. I have contact that is more frequent with my parents; about once a month. Neither my parents nor my brothers have nowadays much influence on my life. In Jewish life, togetherness may be expressed in the traditional Friday night (Sabbath) supper, as in the event described in the story above. This was customary in my original family as well. Many Israeli Jewish families make an attempt for family members to be together on Friday night. This is especially so for religious families, who will follow certain Jewish ceremonies during Sabbath dinner, but also for many secular families. As for Bashar, he enjoys the openness of my family, but finds the way my family functions cold and strange.