An Arab friend of mine delivers one of the local daily newspapers. Here is a conversation that took a place one day around 5:30 pm after he was done with his route.
Me: I still don’t understand your business. Did you just deliver today’s newspapers or tomorrow’s?
Me: Who reads newspapers after 5 pm?
Him: You still think of the Arab culture. There employees buy newspapers in the morning and read it at work.
Me: I see. I have never seen an American reads newspaper at work. And this makes sense now since you deliver newspapers after midnight during the weekends.
Of course not all American newspapers are delivered after noon but at least I know of one and I know why now.
American employees, in general, work from 8 am to 5 pm. If their productivity level is measured in hours, the majority of them have a productivity level of 8 hours a day. That is, from 8 am to 5 pm, except the lunch hour, they work very hard. Because they know they may lose their job any day if they slack. America is no place for slackers or lazy people.
In Jordan and many other Arab countries, the productivity of many employees is definitely way less than 8 hours a day. Unless, we make sure that we all work as hard as possible and do our best no Arab Spring or whatnot can help us advance and be among the industrial countries.
Early Happy International Workers’ Day!
A rest area is a public facility, located next to a highway, expressway, or freeway at which drivers and passengers can rest, eat, or use relatively a clean public toilet. In this rest area in Arkansas there was even a security guard.
Last week, I watched a very disturbing documentary but was a mind opening about what is going on within “the most powerful institution in the world”. “The Invisible War,” nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Academy Awards.
I highly recommend watching this movie. It is available on YouTube. Here are some shocking excerpts from the movie”
“Rape is a repetitive criminal.”
“What we hear again and again from soldiers who have been raped, what was as bad, if not worse, was to receive professional retaliation in their chosen career merely because they were raped.”
“And they took me before my lieutenant commander. He says, do you think this is funny? And I said, what do you mean? He’s like, is this all a joke to you? I was like, what do you mean’ And he goes, you’re the third girl to report rape this week. Are you guys like all in cahoots? You think this is a game.”
“According to the Dept. of Defense’s own estimates, more than 19,000 men and women are sexually assaulted each year in the U.S. military.”
“Mr. Chairman, the Department of Defense has a history of covering up sexual offense problems… I don’t know who you think elected you to defy the Congress of the United States… What is it you’re trying to hide?” Henry Waxman, member of the U.S. House of Representatives to Deputy Defense Undersecretary Michael Dominguez.
(Reuters) – The U.S. military will formally end its ban on women serving in front-line combat roles, officials said on Wednesday, in a move that could open thousands of fighting jobs to female service members for the first time. [Source]
I am not favoring women fighting in front-line combat for too many reasons. Besides that from what I understood from this documentary it is double the risk for women than men to be in front-line combat.
In America, they say “she/he got balls” when referring to a person as being bold or brave. In some Arab countries they refer to these same balls as eggs. Although, it used to mean the same thing by the time it lost its meaning. Now, “he got big eggs” for example doesn’t mean the person is brave instead it means he is in power. Because some Arab countries are plagued by corruption and nepotism politicians, CEOs, and people alike in power are referred to, including their acquaintances of course, as having “big eggs.” So, it is no longer about being brave rather it is about having “Wasta” (nepotism).
Unfortunately, this new meaning of balls, or eggs, brought shame and disgrace to the Arabs. Decades ago the Arabs were castrated and lost their balls. Maybe, this is why we call them eggs. Americans on the other hand have the biggest balls.
The U.S. changed the course of the world after September 11, 2001. It created new laws, regulations and policies after that day. And that was not enough for them because they forced the entire world to take new measures even against some of these countries’ well. They went to war hunting their enemies everywhere on the planet. Why? Because 3,000 of its citizens lost their lives in that attack.
Did Americans lose their mind after September 11? Yes. Did they overreact? Yes. Did they oppress some innocent people in their “war on terror”? Yes. But at least they go to bed not feeling guilty for doing nothing. They are satisfied that they did their best for their fellow lost citizens.
Almost every Arab country lost tens or hundreds of thousands of its citizens; Lebanon, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, and Kuwait. But no one did anything. Now, while the daily killing of civilians takes place by the Asad’s regime in Syria, Arabs are looking to the U.S. to do something. Besides the Arabs, I doubt any nation or race would keep silent while their people are being massacred. How about Gaza? Two millions have been imprisoned by Israel for years.
So, what keeps Arabs from having dignity? Maybe because of these three things:
- To compensate for our castration or lack of balls that is, we are erecting very long towers. And of course we are depending on others to erect these very long things.
- A large number of Muslim scholars are busy collecting money from Arab TV stations to act stupid. These gold diggers will say the stupidest most appalling thing to guarantee themselves more hours on TV. From breastfeed your male co-worker day to fully cover female infants from their fathers to it is okay to rape non-Muslim women, to what Arab actresses should wear and whatever nonsense there is.
- Although the Arabic governments through the years did their best to deprive the citizens of their freedom of speech and dignity, they are not the only ones to be blamed. Arab countries are among the top nations with the least number of readerships. In addition, we are the worst when it comes to doing our work with honesty.
So, what is the purpose of life for a man who doesn’t read and doesn’t work hard?
A castrated man lives an apathetic life!
One of my lab mates is going back to his country in Africa to get married. Me and him are the only non Americans in the group. Our all male group members were shocked to know that the dowry system works different than in the USA. I always thought that the dowry is paid by the groom (or the groom’s parents) to the bride (or the bride’s parents) except in India.
One of the Americans noted that giving money to the bride’s parents is like selling your daughter. According to my American friends the bride’s parents should pay for the wedding.
It is a very interesting subject that I was hoping to learn more about from the Americans. I want to know what is their perspective about the dowry system and why they believe that the bride should pay the groom not the other way. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish our discussion so hopefully I can hear your perspective about the subject.
Who should give the dowry? And why you think he/she should do that not the other way around?
Is there a contract between American Christians between the bride and the groom like Muslims do? In Islam, the contract should specify what the bride is offering and the responsibilities of both sides. In addition, it includes the amount of Nafaqa in case a divorce happens.
I wish also to hear what Christians in the Middle East do. Who give the dowry?
Someone sent me a long list of questions about Arab culture. It is difficult to answer all of them in one post. So, I will try to answer a few in different posts.
How has the US changed since you first came here?
- It became more expensive.
- I used to see more people reading books everywhere now people at coffee shops are mostly on their electronic devices.
- American TV started depicting Muslim characters on TV shows as normal people. The stereotype is still there but at least they are not terrorists.
- I became more adapted to living in the US since I came here 10 years ago.
Knowing both US and Arab culture, would you recommend a cross-cultural marriage to a sister or brother, cousin or friend? Or would you strongly caution against it? Why? Would you recommend this couple’s children be raised in the US or be taken back to Arabia or somewhere else? What other advice would you give?
I am no longer against cross-cultural marriage, as I used to be, because I have seen successful ones. I know Arab-American, Arab-European and Arab-Asian couples who live happily. Cross-cultural marriage can work if both belong to the same religion.
Where the couple lives is not a determined issue for a successful cross-cultural marriage. And also it doesn’t matter where the kids are raised as long as they live with their parents either in Arabia or in the USA.
As in any arrangement both must be clear about certain issues. They should know marriage is not about physical attraction only. One issue I have seen repeated many times and American women can never learn a lesson no matter how many times they read about it. A Muslim Arab man in his mid-twenties or early thirties falls in love with an American woman. Although he is a Muslim but he is not practicing so he is okay with his American wife wearing what she used to wear before marriage. At some point in his life the Arab man decides to be a devoted Muslim. So, he asks his wife to become a Muslim if she is not or to wear hijab if she is a Muslim. Maybe he will ask her not to go the yoga class wearing these tight pants. Or maybe when the couple has their first baby, naming the baby becomes an issue.
My recommendation in case of inter-cultural marriage is to ask questions before marriage.
What did you find different about American Christians compared to Middle Eastern Christians? In what ways is Christianity different here than you expected? Do you believe there is an element of American culture within American Christianity?
Middle Eastern Christians are more conservative than American Christians. In the Middle East, many Christians identify themselves to be Christians. In the US, it is not easy to know if someone is a Christian or not. People here don’t like to talk about religion. I don’t think I have seen a man or a woman wearing a necklace with a cross. In the Middle East, this is very common. One might say because they are a minority in the Middle East so they like to be identified. I feel in the US, some people feel shy to identify themselves as Christians especially among college age students.
In the Middle East, religion is the identity of people. In America, it is not. I think the more dominant factor here is race.
Today, while I was at Starbucks a Saudi student came by and we had a quick chat about what each is doing over the Christams holiday. After he left the smart looking senior American man who was sitting in front of me asked “Arabic or Farsi?” I answered “Arabic.” I waited a moment, hoping for his follow up question but he returned to his laptop instead. I wanted to start a conversation so I asked him “Do you know Arabic?” His answer was quite unexpected. He said “I wish!” and continued to say “It is a talent that brings lots of money these days.” I said “Ya, I have seen many Americans learning Arabic. You know… [I wanted to say after September 11 but I stopped talking].” We both then returned to our laptops.
It is a fact though that after September 11, 2001, many Americans preferred to learn Arabic more than any other language. Universities everywhere in the USA started opening more classes for teaching Arabic. Some universities which never offered Arabic course started new ones. Also, more American students wanted to spend a semester or two in the Middle East than before 2001.
Americans have different reasons for learning Arabic after 2001. Here are a few reasons:
- Know your enemy – The impact of the 2001 on Americans was equivalent to the Pearl Harbor attack. Americans were shocked and wanted to know more about their enemy and the people who hate them that much.
- Job security – Knowing Arabic is a guarantee for getting a job with the American government.
- Good Samaritan – Some Americans felt that the actions of their government do not present their personal beliefs about Arabs, Muslims or Islam. So, they thought learning Arabic and spending a semester or two in the Middle East would help them learn more about the Arabs’ culture and also show Arabs the good side of American citizens.
- Curiosity – Arabic was, since 2001, and maybe still a hot language to learn at least in America.
Do you think there are more reasons for Americans to learn Arabic?
It was only recently during a discussion with my colleagues and our adviser, during the presidential election, I learned that President Lincoln was a Republican. And last week after watching the movie Lincoln I learned also that the Republican party, unlike the Democratic party, was supporting the The Emancipation Proclamation. That is, proclaiming all slaves in Confederate territory to be forever free.
The movie shows that Lincoln alone, against the approval of his cabinet members, who pushed very hard for the approval of the Thirteenth Amendment.
“The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865.” [Wikipedia]
The movie was amazing. I liked it but I am sure Americans would feel more than just enjoyment watching part of a great history in the making. The performance was outstanding by everyone.
Here are some interesting pictures of the election day in America, 2012.
All pictures are from bigpicture.
Some people went very early in the morning to cast their vote.
Others were very excited and full of joy even before they know the result.
New Yorkers were very determined to cast their vote even after the catastrophic hurricane Sandy.
Voting shouldn’t stop one’s daily activities.
Children are taught about the election at a young age.
Sometimes the queue is very long and in some cities the weather can be very cold in November. But some consider voting a patriotic duty.
Those who have hope for a better future cast their vote.
Some parents take their children with them when casting their vote to teach them about the process.