Thursday, September 25, 2008

Case Study: Building a Society with No Respect for Law or Order...

So, this Ramadan has not been a good time for the Bean family's cars. As you all know, I got hit earlier. Well, as I suspected a little "bolish" was not enough to remedy this situation. The guy bent the bumper cracking the paint (and who knows what else underneath). After El 3atal called him, he plead how poor he is (just a poor employee of our fine gas company) and his wife in the hospital and he's fasting and you don't know what that's like (because Christians never fast of course). There's no way he can afford the 100JDs that it will cost to paint the car, can't we do it somewhere cheaper? So, El 3atal says, well simply pay our 25JD deductible and we'll file it on our insurance. A nice gesture, no? And, what happens, the man begins to shout. He rails at El 3atal, indicates that the fact that I stopped in heavy, predictably stop-and-go, traffic MADE him hit me. Then, he threatens to bring his whole family and kill El 3atal. My friends who are Muslim, you should bring this man to task. People like this give Islam a VERY bad name. But, all his Ramadan fasting will come to naught with this type of behavior, so I guess he will get his own reward, no? But honestly, that's the outcome, the end point of this journey. Let me tell you about it's beginning... I'll start with a picture.

Yes, that ugly crack is in the windshield of the BeanMobile. And how, you may ask, did it get there. Well, I was heading to the airport to pick up El 3atal when suddenly a rock flies over a garden wall intentionally slamming into my car windshield. And before you even think it, yes that was some rock alright. It was between the size of a baseball and a softball.

I immediately slammed on the brakes and called Teta Bean (since it occurred near their house and I was certain that my limited Arabic was not up to this situation). As I was looking around to figure out who did it, a stick comes out of the same garden and bounces off a taxi. A little kid pops his head out and ducks back in. A very nice girl (and this is why I do like Jordan) stops to see if she can help and then a man also stops by on his way in the building. The little boy swears he didn't throw the rock, his friend did. Where's his friend? He ran inside to hide.

Well, El 3atal's brother shows up and tries every buzzer on the house to get the owners to come out. They studiously ignore all of them. Then he goes in and pounds on the glass enclosure in front of the door. Finally, they realize he's not going away and the entire family comes out, except the boy who apparently tossed the rock. The dad is indignant that it has nothing to do with him. Berates the child who was playing with his son for talking to us and sends him off with threats of a beating. Then he turns his rage on 3ammoBean. What do you want he shouts? 3ammoBean explains that the man needs to handle this. He demands that we simply file it on our insurance because it has nothing to do with him. His son is inside asleep. You know, here's what really makes me sure this guy's kid did it. He wasn't sorry that someone in his yard threw a stone, he wasn't apologetic that this very frightening experience occurred, he was simply pissed off that we stopped and expected him to step up and take responsibility.

I'll be frank and tell you that I don't let strange children play in my yard. If someone was playing in my yard and did something like this, I would, in fact, take responsibility for it. And I would go to the kids' parents and force them to take responsibility. And do you know why? It's not really about the money. It's about the fact that the child needs to learn this behavior is unacceptable. The child needs discipline. And, this, ladies and gents, is a failing point in behavior in Jordanian society. The undisciplined children are in the majority. They believe there are no rules and any that exist do not apply to them. You wonder why there is no rule of law? Look to the children, my friends. look to the children. If Jordan wants to make a change, become more than it is, advance in whatever way is appropriate for it (which is not to say towards the West), you need to make a stand. Fathers, bring your sons and their friends out to answer for their behavior. Don't pretend it's not an issue, teach them it's wrong. if you can't fgure out which one did it, they can split the cost down the middle between them. Make them do chores to work it off. If they have to work until they're 18, so be it. Make them own their actions...

And for those who in your blinders and ignorance believe that discrimination based on religion is not alive and well here, I ask you to answer one simple question. What possible reason did the police have to ask whether we're Christian or Muslim when we filed our incident report? Anyone? Anyone? Thought not...

Happy social break-down!

20 Comments:

At 4:08 AM , Blogger Ahmad Abdel Salam Hamdan said...

Hi Mommabean...
I agree with you on the fact that children need to be educated about responsiblity and the necessity to stand for oneselfs' actions, because otherwise, we will not be able to change and advance in Jordan.
But I have 2 comments: advancement and development doesn't need to be always like the western model, getting more towards the west is not always the best solution, because cultures are different, the way of life is different, peoples mentality is different. I agree that we need to get closer to the west, but only, and only regarding law order, and individual responsibility.
The second point, about the question you ask at the end, I just want to ask one question: do you hear the same question all the time? for whatever reason? What I mean is that, It is possibly the person who recieved you who is "discriminating". You can't say that there is religious discrimination as a social phenomenon (It exists sporadically on both sides). If you want to know whatis religious discrimination, you need to come to Europe, the best field for such discrimination. In Jordan, Thanx God, we live in peace together, and we always had social peace concerning this question, so I think that there si no need to start a fire, a very dangerous one...
Have a nice day...

 
At 4:50 AM , Blogger Dave said...

Ahmad, you are right about living in peace together (thank God). But I think the point MommaBean is trying to make is that why should one's religious affiliation even be in question in such a matter? If one's answer has nothing to do with the outcome of incident report, why ask it in the first place?

 
At 5:21 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Ahmad, thanks for your visit and comment. Sorry, I mistyped a word which made it sound like I WAS suggesting a Western model when the intent was the oppsite. I think that developing toward the West is not the right thing for Jordan (or any other ME location). In fact, what development means here must be defined within the context of Jordanian society...

As for the discrimination point, unforuntately, it happens more often than not. I'm certainly not trying to start a fire, but rather to open people's eyes to the suble forms that discrimination can take. Frankly, having someone who hit my car imply that I can't understand fasting because I'm not Muslim is a form of discrimination. (Oh, and the guys receiving me at the police station were much nicer than I have often encountered and more open.) It's something we need to root out on a personal level, as well as a social one. And, I take the charge very personally looking for times when I do it, as well.

 
At 5:58 AM , Blogger Mohanned said...

This is outrageous. Tolerance my a$$, discrimination against chrsitians-especially if you look foreign- will only increase and mark my word on that. This is the biggest failure, a morale one on the part of the governing system, even bigger than their economic and political ones.

I am sorry for what you had to go through, if you are an american I would tell the embassy, they just gave the regime 500 million dollars with "no strings attached" with respect to local policies, it seems they only care about the foreign policies. You should speak up, and they should listen.

 
At 6:07 AM , Blogger Mohanned said...

And for Ahmed,
This firm belief that many have about keeping the lid on anything that is viewed as "dangerous" and "immoral" has to change, because if you don't expose it and challenge it nothing will ever change. And this has nothing to do with the "american" model and all this conspiracey mumbo jumbo, the situation is simple: There was discrimination based on relegion, there was bullying on part of some a-holes, there were insults and injustice, Period.

 
At 7:05 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Mohanned, no need for outrage. In this case, in the US I would assume the information was requested to record hate crimes or something. Here, I am unaware of any such statistics. As mentioned, the police were very nice and respectful. But, it was the first question he asked after name and phone number. I have no idea why and in this situation, I didn't feel that it would improve our situation by making an issue of it. I'm not outraged, I just want these types of situations to challenge our prevailing human thought processes. There seem to be many who read the blogs who honestly believe that it doesn't exist. It does. Everywhere. Even the US has issues with discrimination (based on gender, race, and yes even religion). But it is against the law and, while hard to prove, anyone can file a lawsuit for it.

Again, for me, in this situation, I just wonder, how is it applicable? Is it intended to see if the case is worth it to pursue? Is it less worth it if, like me, you're in the minority? More? But, if it doesn't influence the outcome and has no bearing on the situation, why ask it other than to make the person feel less safe and more uncertain?

 
At 7:24 AM , Blogger mab3oos said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7:24 AM , Blogger Mohanned said...

I think that those who don't have any kind of interaction with people of other faiths and orientations are more likely to display the kind of behavior you described. The danger lies when those with prejudice are empowered, and by empowerment I don't necessarily mean that they are given the tools, I mean it with respect to the enviroment that becomes an enabler that amplifies such rediculous acts.

And with respect to the beliefs that people don't think that this kind of behavior exists, I disagree, most people know it, they even posses it, but if they admit it then they have to do something about it, which is what exactly happened in your experience, the prejudice came to surface immediatly and i bet that it made them feel better about themseleves.

 
At 7:30 AM , Blogger mab3oos said...

so a little kid threw a rock at an infidel's car. whats the big deal? He is just a kid. His dad is a kid. his mom is a Kid. Perhaps they belong to the Kidadneh tribe!

just kidding.

this is how to deal with this situation: Take one of the little beans to the house of the kidadnehs and make him/her throw rocks at windows, cars, doors, and what ever is within reach, until tomorrow.

now, you might think this is a barbaric way of dealing with such people. but, as you might recall, barbaric people call for barbaric measures.
have a good, car-accident-rock-throwing-free, weekend.

 
At 7:33 AM , Anonymous Yumna said...

You have every right to be angry over what happened. But come on people, why titles such as "Building a Society with No Respect for Law or Order.." . How come whenever someone runs into a problem, suddenly the Arab world is an evil and cruel world and Jordan is a terrible place. There are national problems that are legitimate cause for generalization such as careless driving, cancer, corruption, etc. But a kid throwing stone on our car and a father protecting his son IS NOT PROOF THAT WE HAVE A SOCIETY WITH NOT RESPECT FOR LAW AND ORDER.

Enough with the melodramatic sweeping generalization based on one person's experience especially when the experience is obviously not country-specific. I mean who did not hear of children tossing stones at cars. Is it dangerous and wrong? yes. and who did not hear of the overprotective and even bullying father?

So how about some perspective.

 
At 7:42 AM , Blogger Mohanned said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7:44 AM , Blogger Mohanned said...

"IS NOT PROOF THAT WE HAVE A SOCIETY WITH NOT RESPECT FOR LAW AND ORDER. "

Are you serious? Do you live in the arab world? Do you live in jordan?

And why not for once we stop finding execuses? Why when anything that is not acceptable surfaces, we come up with: "it happens even in the US and europe", then when sh!t hits the fan we say at least we are not like saudi arabia or syria or iraq! I mean, come on, time for some reality check people!

 
At 1:03 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Yumna,

Actually, neither my title nor my post was intended to prove that there is no respect for law and order. I leave that to other bloggers. Nas has been thinking about this topic lately, along with many, many others. I think those who live in Jordan see very clearly the lack of respect for law and order. And your careless (and I will add reckless and insensitive) driving in fact offers one piece of proof. Nearly everyone here acts as if they are above the law and it does not apply to them. What I said in my post (and stand by) is that this is the birthplace of that behavior.

This unwillingness to accpet responsibility. Had this happened in the US (with all its ills and I assure you I am glaringly aware of them and post of them myself), the police would have undertaken an investigation, interviewed witnesses, and worked to assign responsibility. Frankly, the happy ending for me would be having the police hold these kids accountable by helping them see how serious this situation in fact is (yes a stern talking to can actually do some good). In the US, this behavior is a crime. It goes on your record. It can be prosecuted... That is assuming the parent won't take their own child to task, the authorities will.

When the attitude is prevalent in the society that people refuse to take responsibility for their actions and view themselves as above the law, does that not demonstrate to you a society failing in instilling law and order? It does to me. But, of course, this is just my limited experience. Clearly, you've lived in Jordan as an adult and had a very different experience (please tell me where you found it so I can move to that area!).

Oh, and Mab3oos not that I haven't thought of that, but I was raised better than that. I can't very well complain about the behavior and push for reforming it if I resort to it myself, can I? I take solace in the fact that what goes around comes around and he will gets his own in the end (to use two very trite cliches, teehee).

 
At 3:32 AM , Blogger Ahmad Hamdan said...

I dont agree with Yumna about the fact that there is no problem with law order in Jordan. The problem DOES exist, and Mommabean is right, it is the lack of responsibility by Jordanians because every body thinks that he/she is above the law. This should change, and quickly if we really want to advance. Our children should be well-educated, the system has to change in order to teach responsibility, but if the parents act like the one you encountered, Mommabean, then the cause is already lost, and the next generation will be worse than the past ones. The example of driving is clear enough for all those who contest the fact of law absence in Jordan. My wife is French, and we were back in Amman last may. The first thing she commented about was the horrible irresponsible, non human, disrespectful way Jordanians drive. And she concluded that Jordanians dont respect laws. And she is right. You can't talk of law order and respect when people dont respect a law aiming to keep them alive and safe.
Muhannad, I wasn't speaking about conspiracy theory, because I don't beleive in it. I consider myself intelligent enough to accept that another person can take decissions for my life. Another point, We are not the earth center so that every body is spending their life-times preparing conspiracies for us.
One last thing, I agree with you that the question about religion was discriminating, and such questions about origin, religion, as well as gender discrimination should be sentenced by an act against discrimination implying sentences. But what I want to say is that I dont think that this is a social phenomenon, I mean discrimination for religion. I from Jordan, I am muslim, and I spent my first 12 years of school with sisters and priests in a christian school. Some of my best friends are christians, and we never had a conversation about such a discrimination, nor we have ever spoken of any discrimination in the daily life. I think it is a personal experience, since I know people who were refused for a job because I was muslim, and in the heart of Amman, and in a public institution. So it happens, both ways, but it is not a political problem (Thanx God), and I hope it will never become.
Mommabean, thank you for your blog that I read daily. Wish you a nice weekend!

 
At 4:26 AM , Anonymous Tamoo said...

school bullying is a widespread American problem. is the US a society above the rule of law? Happy-slapping by teenagers is a British problem that's' widespread. is British Society above rule of law?

One thing is true about some bloggers: common sense ain't.

 
At 7:57 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Tamoo, Interesting perspective. There are and always have been bullies in every society. However, school bullies typically get away with it in the US only if they are not reported. I've never seen one, but I'm sure they exist... I guess I'm not one of te 16% that were bullied, and is that really widespread? Curiosity question, that one.) Most schools take this quite seriously. In fact, in the US, the rule of law is quite well established (although certainly not perfect). Honestly, I have no idea what happy-slapping is, so I can't speak to that. As for your last comment, no clue what that was supposed to mean. I'm tkaing it it was some sort of grammatically poorly-worded dig saying I have no common sense?

Ahmad, I know that there are many Muslims in Christian schools. However, I'll be truly honest here and say that anyone in the majority is unlikely to know how prevalent discrimination is for the minority unless they've lived it. I can't say (as a white woman) that racial discrimination doesn't happen in the US. I personally haven't discriminated against someone who's black, or hispanic, or, or, or. But I realize that my personal experience aside, it does happen. And, this is typically true anytime there is a majority. However, guarding against it, raising our children to understand that it is wrong (even if everyone else does it), these are the changes that we can affect one at a time. Frankly, I haven't been here long and I've heard countless stories. I don't repeat them because they aren't mne. But like most people in the minority, it is far easier to "just get along" than to make waves. Few Christians will talk about discrimination out of fear of reprisals. That is typically the case and has typically been the case world-wide, I think.

I do however agree with you whole heartedly in thanking God. I do so that there is freedom to worship and freedom of belief. And, while I think there are some who would call the mandatory percentages of Christians (and other groups in Parliament) a political issue. I'm with you in Thanking God on that one too.

In every society we have good and bad. The ability to live in the society is found when the good outwieghs the bad. But, that said, resting where we are is the same as moving backwards...

 
At 11:56 PM , Blogger Ali said...

Education starts from home, and unfortunately, the parents of these kids (that in case they were kids) are even worse.

 
At 1:54 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Exactly, Ali. Thanks for stopping by.

 
At 5:43 PM , Blogger Nicole said...

Typical example of lack of responsibility or accountability. I have seen it occur so many times. The kids always lie and the parents always say their 'perfect' child could not have done said thing. Very disturbing. No one is to blame for anything in this country. For God's Sake, stand up for what is right.

Interesting points about Christian prejudices here in Jordan. Keep up the commentary so we can know what is really going on out there. Thanks.

 
At 10:46 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Nicole, it's nice to know I'm not alone in seeing it... Hopefully with enough parents teaching their kids responsibility, they'll begin to sway the others...

 

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