Friday, January 09, 2004

Iraq's loss is America's gain. Is that true?

A reader sent me this note:

Enjoyed reading your biography. Can't help feeling that Iraq's loss is America's gain. Pity. Iraq needs you more.

I do appreciate the reader's thought, but I guess I need to explain more about myself, which I haven't included in my biography.

First of all, I hold an Australian citizenship. My Australian citizenship is not just a piece of paper or a passport I use for my international travel. It's my new identity. During my five-year stay in Australia, I learned more good things than I learned from living in the Middle East for 28-years.

The first thing I learned in Australia is to treat people the same whether they're Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or any other religion. I learned to treat people the same whether they're male or female, straight or gay. Everyone has the same rights and responsibilities. No group has more privileges than the other groups.

During the five years I lived in Australia, nobody asked me what my religion is. This doesn't mean Australians are less religious than other countries -- in fact they are more religious -- but they leave this topic for the individual person.

What's happening in Iraq now? I received an e-mail a few days ago from an Iraqi friend who's now working in Jordan. I asked her if she knew what happened with some people from our 1988 Computer Science class. She said two of our female professors are now teachers at a Jordanian university.

These are three females. I hate to say this, so I wouldn't sound negative about what's happening to females and Christians in Iraq, but the three females are Christians.

Why would these females leave Iraq? One reason: they feel more secure in Jordan than in Iraq. I'm sure they're paid more in Jordan than what they were paid in Iraq. I still believe they left for security reasons. These are not the only Iraqi females I know who moved to live in Jordan. I know other Christian families who moved their wives and children to Jordan since the collapse of the old regime.

Changing regimes in Iraq will not change people's mentality or behavior.

I walked on Australian streets at night with no fear of someone attacking me. I would travel with no fear of someone breaking into my apartment to steal something. The same in Jordan. The same in America.

I asked my sister-in-law when I saw her after the collapse of the old regime: would you even think of going back to Iraq? She looked at me and said, "I live in Canada, I put my head on the pillow at night knowing I will wake up safe. Would Iraq offer me that safety?"

When the TV channels were showing the looting at the Iraqi museum on April 2003, my dad was so upset. But he said something which made sense at the time. He said, "Let them take these pieces of history. These are the pieces of history that are holding us back from our future. Let's start without history. Maybe we would become a better country that way."

Australian and American history started 200 years ago. In these 200 years, these two countries contributed more to science, human rights and democracy than the Middle Eastern countries contributed for the last 6,000 years.

In the Middle East, everyone will tell you how they began civilization 1,000; 2,000; or 6,000 years ago. The question is: What did these countries contribute to science, human rights and democracy for the last 200-years?

I leave the answer for the reader.

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