Friday, May 05, 2006

Mutual Understanding

Mainly, this was to be a reply to a comment made by Original_Jeff about the previous post. On second thought, I decided to post it here. First, I’m not considering any of my ideas an ultimate one. Sometimes, it is not nice to keep on criticizing without introducing an idea. What I’m trying to do in this blog is ‘Thinking Loudly’, introducing a perspective and, the most important thing, to learn something about the world.

A good point made by Original_Jeff, that’s
“some of the leaders of radical Islam and of al-Quaeda spent quite a bit of time in western countries”.
But one should question the number of these radicals compared to more than a billion Muslims in the world. Should all Muslims be viewed through a bunch of deafening radical Islamists or several criminals who committed one of the most aggravated crimes on 9/11? Would it be fair to view all Americans through what happened in Abu Ghraib or through an irritated soldier kicking Iraqi civilian cars or shooting at them?

Another point by Jeff says
“Almost all Americans have the belief “that if they only knew us better, then they would not hate us”—which is what you are suggesting.”
Yes, and I would counter back the belief. What we need is mutual understanding. It is essential, as an American president once said (I think JFK), since we share the same planet.

Having first-hand experience of oppression, I can say that terrorists work hard on impairing the social ties which is the same policy of Saddam. Broadening the concept leads to impairing the ties between different societies. It helps in sowing fear, mistrust, uncertainty, hatred, confusion…etc. These elements are the most suitable tools for terrorists and Saddamists to create the appropriate environment for their activities. So, suspicion and mistrust should be stirred up every where and every time.

To break this closed circle of continuous bilateral misunderstanding, something should be done. It is not necessarily what I’m suggesting; others may have brilliant ideas better than (the naïve of) mine.

Mtnyogi made good remarks, but a direct human experience is much more beneficial than seeing people on screens or chatting with them through internet or phone. Al-Hurra TV (sponsored by the US gov.) introduces a program called (Americans) which shows some aspects of the American people’s life. Still, the American individual looks ostentatious and has nothing in common with Iraqi or Arab individuals. An Arab proverb says “To truly know someone; travel with him/her” which means to live with him/her round-the-clock. So, it is either Iraqi tourists to visit the states (which is impossible because most of Iraqis live on the edge of poverty & tight US security regulations), or American tourists to visit Iraq (which is also impossible for the known circumstances).

As for writing a book, I don’t know how to do it since I have no idea about how books are written or published. And if I manage in doing so, I’m sure no one would read it. A book is the last thing an Iraqi thinks about because of low personal income which makes buying a book a matter of luxury. The new Iraqi generations were brought up in a society adores weapons not books. Even the most needed books are not easy to buy. The other day, a cousin of mine was telling me how a book of anatomy is expensive. It costs $49 which may give you an idea about the world of books in Iraq.

My (naïve) suggestion is built on the idea that although few Iraqis have the experience of traveling abroad, one can still listen to their repeated stories about the vast world filled with amazing people. Stories about how Jordan or UAE, whose peoples the Iraqis used to look at as inferiors, have made an enormous achievements are passed from mouth to mouth with a sense of criticism and comparison to the bad situation of Iraqis for more than a quarter century. So, I believe this “just a small group coming to the U.S.” as described by mtnyogi would have a greater influence on the Iraqis than a book or a TV station.

Finally, I am not suggesting that other ideas won’t be helpful, but I am trying to say let different peoples know each other. Don’t put barriers with media holes which don’t show the whole story.

One last word: Thanks to Noah & Louise for commenting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not believe anything can be done with those who are continuing
the killing and violence.

Nothing is going to stop men who follow Zarqawi or even al-Sadr
from changing their minds.

It is over three years now ...
American soldiers have died in order to give moderate Iraqi
a chance to form a new Nation.

But insurgents still have great support in many areas ...Many
Iraqi still claim Attacks on the Americans and British are
justified ... Then they cry about
lack of re-construction etc.

No one will invest in Iraq as long
as the violence continues ....
Billions of dollars are waiting for Iraq to stabalize.

Look at Basra ... British Helicopter Shot down ... British soldiers try to evacuate area
and foolish Iraqi Harass British soldiers ... I am sure they will all go home and next week wonder
why there are no jobs in Basra??

British air-force can destroy
every living thing in Basra in one day!!!

American air-force can do the same with Baghdad ....

Brave soldiers are on patrol to give new Iraqi security services
a chance to form and Mature ....

Yet many people still support attacks on them ....

Nothing will change their mind.
Everything will be misconstrued
into some conspiracy theory ...
(like we control Zarqawi or that
we made a deal with Saddam)

Hell I wish we made a deal with Saddam ... then our 2400 soldiers
would still be alive

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly "destroying" everything is the answer. Wait...was that not what got the Americans into this mess to begin with?

4:57 AM  
Blogger Pat in NC said...

Education of all Iraqi children is the best answer. Once they learn to read, write and express themselves will help. It is a slow process but stop and think about the fact that it is the educated Iraqi who is able to blog. Those who read and write another language be it French or English have the opportunity to communicate via the internet. As long as Iraq does not put limits on what can be accessed via the internet, they can search for any information they want. It is through the Iraqi blogs that I began to understand that Shia, Sunni and non sectarian Iraqis share so much of what has been important in my life. Love of family,God and country. I supported this war because I had read of the terrible suffering under Saddam/ When the extent of missuse of funds for food and medicine causing even more suffering of the people made me continue to support the intervention of the coalition. Now I read of the continuing violence and I wonder if we should have tried to help. Our help has increased suffering for many and yet our intentions were humane. Had we wanted to destroy Iraq we could have. We wanted regime change to make life better for Iraqis. I believe we are all created by God and that we are our brother's keepers. I do not insist that all believe as I do but I am thankful that the God I worship gave us the commandment to love one another and not to kill all who do not accept our faith. I do not view Muslims as all being like those who attacked our country on 9/11 Blogs have helped me understand and be open to learning what Iraqis can teach me.
If my understanding is correct, those not favored by Saddam had little if any chance at education. Schools have been rehabilitated,Americans have sent supplies. Military have worked with the schools. Military have found desperately ill children and made possible treatment in the US.
We continue to try to help. Please keep blogging and teach your children or any children you have a relationship with to read, write and use computers.

4:13 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Ibn, great post as always. Keep up the good work. We're rooting for Iraq. We want you stable, prosperous and above all FREE.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

You make a sound argument. If you would like some books, I could mail you some. All you would have to do is ask. I have books about the beginning of our government and the people and their thoughts.

If you wanted to write a book, you just put your thoughts on paper. That's really all there is to it. It's just like what you are doing now. You would be surprised how many people are interested in reading and learning about the Iraqi people. :)

4:45 AM  
Blogger Ibn_Alrafidain said...

First, many thanks to Pat in NC, Nick, and Rosemary for the nice words. As for Rosemary's generous offer and many others I received through Email, I'm grateful for them, but believe me that I am not looking for any kind of personal benefit. It is quite enough for me to know that my homeland is moving in the right direction and the coming generations will witness better life than of ours. So please help if you can.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Josh Scholar said...

Your idea about the importance of traveling abroad reminds me of something I've noticed.

As far as I can tell, newspapers in Arab parts of the middle east only talk about non-muslim parts of the world as being full of hostile people who are trying to hurt Arabs.. It's all, 100 percent conspiracy theories, paranoia and negative talk.

I think one reason for this, is that in Arab countries, apart from the new Iraq, perhaps, any implied criticism of any leader, any implied criticism of the system will get a journalist fired.

As Fawaz Turki said about being fired from Arab News, "What mattered was that I had committed one of the three cardinal sins an Arab journalist must avoid when working for the Arab press: I criticized the government. The other two? Bringing up Islam as an issue and criticizing, by name, political leaders in the Arab or Islamic world for their brazen excesses, dismal failures and blatant abuses."

And since it's understood that the rest of the world is different, any praise for the rest of the world is seen as implying criticism for your home government etcetera.

I don't think Arabs need to travel so much, what they need is a sane press that doesn't spread poisonous paranoia about the rest of the world, and that can actually find the positive things, praise the praiseworthy and is free to make comparisons, even those that point out flaws and crimes close to home.

4:39 AM  

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