Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Source of Openness

Last week I was interviewed by Radio Open Source for their latest online radio show with the topic 'Generational Divide in the Middle East'. You can now listen to that interview here.

I must admit, I stuttered and stumbled a bit. You know, still get nervous sometimes. I remember the interview lasted a good part of at least half an hour! The clip is only 1 min 40 sec long.

So a lot of what I said didn't make the cut. But I think one of the things I did want to say was that there's this unspoken rule that, as the younger generation, we must listen and respect our elders. In the sense that they do most of the talking, and we either agree with what they say, or simply acknowledge it. And it's not that we don't have things to say, or are afraid to say it, it's simply the way we were brought up, out of culture and tradition.

The unfortunate truth is that the 'senior' generation has always found it difficult to put their faith in their 'junior' one, always struggled in accepting their impending role in taking this on, in showing responsibility. In some cases it's true, and the young ones usually end up disappointing you, but it gets to the point where you have to let go. You don't have to die before handing over command to those under you.

So we end up being made to feel belittled, marginalized and insignificant, and we, eventually, would snap. Years and years of oppression and repression can result in only one thing.

Another aspect I've been noticing these past few weeks is how my parents has been perceiving what's been going on with the war on Lebanon. I could feel that, watching the news unfold, it's taken them back to the 1960s era, to the day of Gamal Abdulnaser, to the long-gone days of Arab unity and patriotism.

They say history repeats itself, in one form or the other. I can see that in their eyes.


Boilerman Information Network said...

The recent events in Lebanon have brought me closer to what it's been like living in the 60's and Nasser and Pan-Arabism. It's funny how that in turn made me appreciate my parent's attachment to that era.

Ali Al Saeed said...

We've heard so much about that era, but we couldn't understand it. Couldn't grasp its impact. I think now 'we' can see/feel that.

The one good sign that came out of this horrible war is that all Arabs (as a people) are united in opinion and voice. And I think it's about time the rest of the world paused to listen.

tooners said...

I hope that ppl do pause and listen. I really hope it happens. As an outsider looking in, I think a lot of the world sees the Arabs as united... they remember how they celebrated over 9/11, what happened in England... and elsewhere. They remember the suicide bombings, what's happening in Iraq... and see all Arabs as one.... being against all outsiders, against the West.

In saying this, I hope that the world changes and starts to see that it's not all about violence and killing. They see the Arabs as something different. I hope that ppl wake up and listen, and realize there's another way of life out there.

Ali Al Saeed said...

What's happening now in Lebannon cannot be compared to 9/11. That small group that celebrated 9/11 is a minority that the rest of Arabs wants nothing to do with. They are the fundamentalists and extremists that are being shunned away by socity now.

The reason I believe Arabs (again, as a people only) are united over Lebannon is because they believe it is WRONG.

tooners said...

I agree w/ you Ali... I was only saying what I think is in the heart's of a lot of ppl. I'm not saying it's right, but they see Arabs in a certain light... but I pray that is changing. Altho, sometimes I worry that it isn't.

I think it's good that Arabs are united and believe it is wrong... I too believe it is wrong.

I just hope that American policy changes and ppl start seeing things for the truth.

Boilerman Information Network said...

To think that most people in the West (at least the US) didn't know the difference between a muslim, an arab, an iranian, a sikh, an indian, etc before 9/11 is proof of what Ed Said would have called Orientalism, the most reduced and crude form of eastern interpretation. A view which underlies the view of US and THEM, of cultural misunderstanding and a sense of disconnectedness by all parties involved. It's also a great way to instantly demonize easterners all at once.

Ali, you are a True Bahraini Hero (TBH) according to Boilerman. Think big. Stay heroic. We need more Bahrainis like you.


Cerebralwaste said...


Don't generlize about what Americans know. It devalues your imput. How would you feel if I quipped that Arabs don't know what an American is?

The actions of a few don't reflect the thoughts of the many. On BOTH sides of the fence!

Boilerman Information Network said...

I would say that you're right. A lot of Arabs don't know what an American is. They think that an American is McDonald's, Buick, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Lewinski, CNN and young navy recruits in the fifth fleet plucked from some potato farm in Idaho. Which is utterly wrong and equally reductionist as Orientalism is.

So, perhaps I should've said "a lot" instead of "most". It's all about semantics, isn't it? ;)

Cerebralwaste said...

Semantics make a huge differance in how something is perceived! A simple ommision or inclusion of a single word or two can cause a great stir whether intended or not.

PS. Idaho grows GREAT potatoes. Almost as good as the ones from Maine!

Boilerman Information Network said...

I concur, Idahoan or bust! :)

Ali Al Saeed said...

Um (blush) Thanks for comments BIN. And Tooners and CW too.

I think there is also another aspect to this. Most of the Westren world does not have access to Arab media. They only get the one side of the story. Whereas here, people get to see both ends. We watch Arabic and English news channels and we see how each news item is played out in a different way.

The West has a narrow angle when it comes to that. I'm not saying that they are unaware of things, but we all know how the media has an integral part in forming public opinion.

So much so that Arabs mostly feel as if their lives and their opinions have no value to the rest of the world.