Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No offense, but...

I was poking around today and came across this really interesting article on the fact that humans are predisposed toward taking offense. Called Well excuuuuuse me, it refers to a number of different studies and is 3 (web) pages long. Well, deep in the middle of the second page, I found this following paragraph that I found most interesting.

Humans' sense of indignation is not just limited to violations against us. Even if you're able-bodied, think of how offended you feel when you see another able-bodied person pull into a handicapped parking spot. Most of us will just walk on, quietly irate, but a few will yell at the driver. These moral enforcers are vital to society. Frans de Waal writes that experiments with macaques show that if you remove the individuals who perform this policing function, hostilities increase among the entire band.

So, why did this strike me? Well, it seems to me a very un-Jordanian idea. This concept that you would feel outrage on someone else's behalf really seems to be foreign here. At various times, I have chastised people in banks and government offices for ignoring the line and for pushing past Filipinas as if they did not exist (even when I'm not in the line). Locals give me the American pass, but Jordanians who dare feel outrage on behalf of others are accused of being "too American" or living outside "too long". I also find it terribly interesting that the so-called "moral enforcers" keep hostilities from increasing across the entire group. Given the astonishing level of road rage (and standing rage it seems), I wonder if this explains some of Jordan's tendency these days towards hostility? At any rate, it's certainly a call for community spirit and empathizing with your neighbor. Maybe we need to turn back on the moral enforcer chip, both here and in the US. Maybe a little more outrage on the part of others would do us good. After all, kit's not an accident that America is where the term road rage was coined, now is it?

Happy Outrage!


At 7:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


"pushing past Filipinas as if they did not exist"


shoo haaaad????

At 10:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this very interesting, as I live in Morocco. I often interfere (such as saving a child at a swimming pool when the life guard wasn't around, or speaking to a child dunking another small child under the water with no other adults paying attention, or speaking up in the line at the post office when people push ahead; or speaking up when people smoke in a clear "no-smoking" area). My Moroccan husband tell me, "That's not our business, it's only the business of the officials in charge to enforce things like that (which of course, they don't).

I can't speak for Jordanian society, but in Moroccan society, no one likes to be "told" what they have to do. Everyone (even adults) think they are "free" and that freedom means being able to do whatever you like, any time you like, any way you like. So that means you have people driving the wrong way on one-way streets because they "feel" like it, smoking in no-smoking areas with no one stopping them, making loud noise at three in the morning, so loud it makes your windows shake, and no noise ordinances, etc.


At 11:40 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Eileen, interesting that Morocco shares many traits with Jordan. The one-way street thing is particularly on-point (I've even posted about that before). Welcome to my blog.

At 2:41 PM , Blogger Hani Obaid said...

Take that further than feeling outrage for someone else, to feeling compassion to someone different than you. I think this is similar to what Al-3atal was writing about recently, and I was just telling Kinzi today that I thought it takes someone really special to do that.

Sometimes I see ads for charity that say: "Help a fellow muslim!".
Why not "Help a fellow human being"

At 9:39 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, this is a constant point of contention with me. A whole group of people will see someone doing something wrong, yet not step up and say anything. As Muslims, we are commanded so many times in the Quran that one of our duties is to 'Enjoin the good and forbid the evil.' That means we have to stand up whenever we see injustice. The lowest point of interference is to hate it in your heart but say nothing. I hope at least the folks are doing this, but you never know.

A pity this is an issue in so many Muslim countries...when we have all the rules to follow. Maybe we can get some of those moral enforcer chips and inject them. Now we are going Big Brother...

At 11:08 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Hani, with my tongue FIRMLY in my cheek, perhaps the creators of the ad think the two are equivalent? Akin to the concept in America's early days that women and slaves being unable to vote was acceptable because the rule is one man one vote and they're not really men?

Nicole, I agree. You know, as Hani said, I think as HUMANS putting all religion aside, we need to be looking out for those less able to take care of themselves. I agree with moral enorcer chip injections, it would both make a difference and be big brother-ish...


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