Sunday, March 01, 2009

Shut Up and Sit Down or Go Back To America

You know, there's something I'm rather tired of. It seems like whenever people suggest that they'd like to see positive change in Jordan, a certain contingent of those commenting (whether virtual or IRL) have the attitude that everything's fine and you shouldn't talk about anything that isn't. It isn't limited to those blonds of us in society. In happens to those born and bred here as well. And, frankly, it's begun to annoy me.

Somehow, there seems to be a culture of shut up or go back "home." And you know what? This IS home. If I didn't love Jordan and plan to make my home here, I wouldn't care if things improved. Somehow that seems lost on people. A virtual community that I am part of had a tongue-in-cheek conversation going on about the discovery (frightening might I add) that the Disi aquifer may be radioactive. Those who were commenting with displeasure on this were scolded rather soundly. The premise of this scolding was that a woman raised her kids here and they were just fine, so everything must be fine. Somehow that argument falls flat to me.

I harp on the need for child car seat laws because the footnote to a recent report on a 25% reduction in car accidents (GO JORDAN!) was that 90% of fatalities are still in the under 5 age group. 90%! Ladies and gentleman, that's NOT okay. And, I know most people still don't use any restraints for their kids. But, they should. Really. 90% of fatalities are the most vulnerable segment of society least able to speak for themselves. If we don't speak for them, who will?

How about smoking. I guess if it bothers me that others share their dirty second-hand smoke-filled air with me, I should just go back to America (or to Dubai in fact) where smoking in public is not only illegal, but enforced. I should abandon the 6 year olds I see weekly with packs of cigarettes. I just shouldn't care. I make my home a smoke-free zone and go to restaurants that have non-smoking sections. That should be enough. But, again should it? If I love Jordan, shouldn't I want it to improve?

But then I guess by this argument that gets tossed around so glibly, those small-minded (frankly bigoted) Americans who feel like Muslims who want their rights respected should just "go home" if they're so unhappy are right as well, no? After all, Muslims who have been made citizens of the US have no fewer rights there than I have here. Both of us were naturalized after being raised in a widely varying culture. Both of us find things we'd like to change. But apparently, only one of us should be able to ask for that change. Maybe we all need to take a step back and think. Once before I dropped this quote on my blog:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw

So, before calling for someone to "go home if you don't like it here" hear the message they are sending. And recognize that anyone who lives here by choice and desires change does so out of love. I love Jordan, it's people, and it's heritage. But I want to see changes for the better. I want to see progress. If I didn't, I would be either indifferent or uninterested. Those are two things I hope never to be...

Happy Attitude-Adjustments!

17 Comments:

At 8:10 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Dear!
Am so glad those Disi aquifer (shut up and put up) comments bothered me, too.

I bowed out of that discussion because it just wasn't worth it, and thus had to make a joke about it.

Love ya!

 
At 8:21 AM , Blogger Ahmad Hamdan said...

Dear Mommabean,

I don't know whereto begin, because what you are talking about hre is a daily experience for me. I am Jordanian, born, raised, and educated in Jordan. I went to Franceto finish my postgraduate studies, and I have chosen t go back to Jordan to build my life, because it is my country that I love above all, and because I believe that a great potential exists within this country and its people. Your experience about "go home if you don't like it here" is not limited to abroad-raised-and-educated Jordanins, it is an experience that I am living every day, but what people tell me is a bit diffrent "if you don't like it here, leave it and go away".
As I said here before, the problem is about the way of thinking in Jordan, which is very simple: "I am the world, and nothing else matters as long as I don't have problems". This is the reality regarding car accidents, smoking, jobs, money, health, politics, etc etc...
The main problem in Jordan is the absence of respect and intellegence. Moreover, Jordanians are indifferent and uninterested, and they don't seem willing to change. One recent example was last summer. I was driving and about to enter the 3rd cirle, traffic was relatively dense so I stopped waiting to be able to get into the circle. Another guy started to use the horn of his car, then he came beside me and told me that I have to accelerate and enter the circle. I told him that it is impossible with such a traffic, and you need to be a stupid and idiot to do it, and it is this attitude that is keeping us away from "developped" countries. What do you think his answer was? He simply old me: "Well, we are stupid and idiot, and we don't want to change. If you want to drive by the law, go drive in Europe or the US". It was a young guy, so it has nothing to do with generations.

It is a way of life in Jordan, to be stubborned an indifferent. It is so difficult to change it, but it is not impossible. We should work with children and adolescents. In universities, it would be much more difficult. I say that from my experience as a professor in the university of Jordan. Students are not willing to change, even when you try to explain that the new system is to give them better results and to create a more favorable environment for the progress.

Children are the key element in the process. But, what about their parents? Would they be willing to accept such a change with their children? It is a major question that needs an answer.

 
At 9:06 AM , Blogger Nicole said...

Ameen. Wow, this is a subject that just needs to be addressed here in Jordan. I am glad that Ahmed Hamdan gave us his experience as well. It is not only foreigners who want change here in Jordan. But there are so many people who aren't willing to MAKE the change. We have to make it and not just talk about it. I see little glimmers here and there, but over all there is great resistance to change. It is sad and I hope during my stay here I see some real change soon.

 
At 12:28 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Umm Farouq, exactly. It's funny that you knew exactly what inspired my post. I figured you would, my glowing friend.

Ahmad, I know where you're coming from. El 3atal gets those same kinds of comments. If you don't love everything, why don't you go live in the US. Such a shame. And sadly some folks do make that choice. And I wholeheartedly agree with you that all of these changes must begin with the kids. But, as I posted before, it has to start with their teachers as well, which is a challenge... But, some of us are up for the challenge, right?

Nicole, definitely we need to build a societal pressure to change. We just need that critical mass. We'll have to go all Eastern on them and "be te change we want to see in the world" teehee. Wisdom comes from all corners, right?

 
At 2:19 PM , Blogger Ahmad Hamdan said...

Mommabean,

I totally agree that somehow the job has to start with teachers. And I am up for this challenge. And from my brief exprience (for now) I can tell you it is very difficult, even with teachers. Some of my collegues who came back from Europe or the US are getting back to their old habits. When they were abroad, they learned to respect law and regulations, even if they didn't before. It is killing me. And the most frustrating thing is that their advice to me is to adapt with the society, and try to live with the sysem, because otherwise, I will lose time.
This is just to say that such a challenge could be the most difficult in one's lifetime. And I think that we need to start a work group or such a thing to try to educate people about the importance of laws, and the necessity of respect in daily life. If you are up to it people, let me know...

 
At 5:58 AM , Blogger Dave said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. While some people like to complain about things just to complain about things, it is evident when someone is frustrated with the status quo, especially when improvement can be made for the betterment of all.

 
At 7:13 AM , Blogger Ali said...

I agree with you Momma, only the weak say such stupid remarks. Caring about this country doesn't make you any less Jordanian than any of us. People can be ignorant sometimes

 
At 7:42 AM , Anonymous Michon said...

I sent the original email with the link to that story in the Jordan Times.

My first and only thought when I read the reply was, "Would you like a cookie?" Hm..

There is a lot to do here, but it can be very discouraging at times. I'm on board...

 
At 8:42 AM , Blogger Nicole said...

Where would the change start in the schools? I have seen in my kids' Mhni books (Home Ec or something like that) how the kids learn not to throw trash on the floor, to follow directions, have good manners, etc. But in the same school, the ground is littered with lunch trash everyday and seven year old kids will push right past an adult forcefully to get where they want to go. Is this the same problem as the smoking in public issues? ENFORCEMENT? Can volunteers do something to change that? What about the paid public servants? I want to see govt action not just public service announcements. Any thoughts as to how we can do this?

 
At 1:12 AM , Anonymous Dee said...

I agree that it's wrong, and I would never say that to anyone unless they were being ridiculus :p, but this is simply how our minds work lol. And I think it'll be very hard to change this about us, for we are known for our stubborness. Some characteristics just make up our entire nation and this is one of them.

 
At 6:43 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Ahmad, Dave, and Ali, indeed, ITA.

Michon, you and me both. Though make sure it's a chocolate fudge, coma-inducing cookie.

Nicole, I'm not in an idea-generation place right now (too many irrelevant birthday-related thing in my mind. But, maybe next week we should get together over a nice hot chocolate and brainstorm...

Dee, while I understand that it is the mentality, that doen't make it less wrong. Actually, though, the irony is that the e-mail that prompted this was from an AMERICAN! Talk about sad...

 
At 2:32 AM , Blogger IndianaBeth said...

Salaam,

Could you post the link to the report that states that 90% of road traffic accident fatalities are kids 0 - 5? I'm desperately trying to convince my in-laws to buckle in their kids...especially the youngest ones, and there is huge resistance to it. It's maddening.

 
At 3:06 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Aww Indiana Beth, I'm SO wishing I could... It was effectively a post script at the end of an article in the Jordan Times. I'll see if I can find a way to search, but haven't been able to find past articles when I've tried before. Let me see what I can do.

 
At 3:17 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Okay, I found a related article...

http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2007/April/20070413133602ajesrom0.7293817.html

Apparently, five children died a week in road accidents in 1997.

The Jordan Times article simply finished the article with "Children aged between 0-5 years constitute the highest percentage of traffic fatalities in Jordan." http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=14558

The 90% must have infiltrated my mind from an eralier article I read. No idea where it is... :(. Hope this helps, but I can assure you that it's an uphill battle. There is a perception that since they don't drive "very fast" kids won't be hurt if the are improperly secured. You might try the route of showing them the crash test results for the 10 year old in a car going something like 30 mph... I found it striking.

 
At 3:18 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Okay, I found a related article...

http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2007/April/20070413133602ajesrom0.7293817.html

Apparently, five children died a week in road accidents in 1997.

The Jordan Times article simply finished the article with "Children aged between 0-5 years constitute the highest percentage of traffic fatalities in Jordan." http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=14558

The 90% must have infiltrated my mind from an eralier article I read. No idea where it is... :(. Hope this helps, but I can assure you that it's an uphill battle. There is a perception that since they don't drive "very fast" kids won't be hurt if the are improperly secured. You might try the route of showing them the crash test results for the 10 year old in a car going something like 30 mph... I found it striking.

 
At 3:30 AM , Blogger IndianaBeth said...

Thanks so much MommaBean! It's just one of those things that makes me nuts--seeing very small children standing in the front of the car when their parents are speeding along...really, I want to pull out my hair. :( If I get to the point where I'm actually driving here (LOL--argh!) I'm going to insist that all passengers be buckled and keep a car seat in my trunk for the little ones. I guess we do what we can. :) JAK for your post!

 
At 5:41 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

IndianaBeth, makes me nuts too. The worst are the little ones standing out of the sun roof... I insist on seat belts for everyone in my car, but it can be a challenge. Here's hoping your transition to driving the obstacle course that is Jordan happens soon and smoothly. Friendly word of advice, stay home during Ramadan...

 

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