My Response to a Study in Arab Mentality

My blogging compatriot and spiritual friend Jalal gave a well reasoned and thought provoking assessment of the Arab personality in his recent blog.  He raises an important issue and I hope he takes my response in the spirit of a friendly discourse in which it is intended.

This is a very damning assessment of the Arab experience. I view it from the distance of the experience of a black American who knows relatively little about the day to day experience of the Arab. However I believe in the universality of the human spirit, and the potential for growth and change. Accepting arguendo that all these observations are true, the relevant questions are, what should the characteristic of the Arab be? (Not necessarily a uniform answer), why they are the way they are and most important how do we affect change for the better?

I cannot agree with the conclusion that “They will always be divided, fighting each other, hating each other and betraying each other.”

The human mind can change. Yes it is a difficult process that takes generations in some cases. But a life lived trying to affect change that will result in a more loving world is time well spent. This is where our individual and corporate responsibilities meet. It does not matter that we do not see the final result in our life time.

The first step in effecting change is to imagine it. The problem with the Arab world, and this is similar to many other issues that we face in life today, is that we limit our imaginations. Before anything comes into existence it must become a thought; one held so dearly that in concert with our efforts the forces of creation come together to make it real.

Human history is replete with incidents where imagination that went contrary to the prevailing doctrine, and was ridiculed at the outset over time became the conventional wisdom. Christopher Columbus had to imagine the possibility of going west to go east before he was able to do it. Before Roger Bannister, it was thought humanly impossible to run a mile in under 4 minutes. After Bannister did it in 1954 within 46 days the record was broken. Now that others were able to imagine the possibility the barriers thought impregnable began to fall.

I love my Arab brothers and sisters. I love all people. And I fervently believe that the God of creation placed us here with our foibles and flaws to learn how to overcome them through love and to learn that a whole humanity is better than the sum of the parts.

It is not easy. It is not about being easy. This life, even a long one, is temporary. But the spirit of the giver is profoundly enhanced in this life when a life of contribution is lived even to the point of the ultimate sacrifice. We may believe differently about what comes after, but none of us can prove our belief. But our history shows living selflessly and contributing to the greater good is its own meaningful reward to the soul that engages in it.

What must be clear is that our purpose is delineated and our actions judged by the principle of love. And true love applies to the entire spectrum of humanity without confinement to tribe, nationality, religion, race, sexual orientation,  or any other method by which we choose to define ourselves or others.

We must imagine a world in which we see ourselves in the other, even if that person is at the farthest end of the earth from us in distance or belief. We must recognize that our neighbor’s welfare is our welfare.

It may sound like idealism and pie in the sky ranting, but that is the reality we face; to imagine a world of brothers and sisters living together as one, and then to do our bit wherever we are to rid ourselves of any thoughts to the contrary and work to make that image a reality.


2 thoughts on “My Response to a Study in Arab Mentality

  1. I like and believe your statement ” to imagine a world of brothers and sisters living together as one, and then to do our bit wherever we are to rid ourselves of any thoughts to the contrary and work to make that image a reality.” I perceive this not as rant but truth. Thank you.

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