Monday, June 20, 2005

Stop Whining And Start Rebuilding

Yesterday, I attended the early Sunday mass. I felt half-asleep under the quiet cool atmosphere until the priest started his homily. I suddenly opened my eyes and ears to listen to his words because his words hit me hard. He started by explaining "state of fear." He said when you work for a company that manages its employees with a state of fear, the management doesn't have to monitor your steps. He said your fear stops you from breaking the rules "even" if you don't agree with those rules because you don't want to be fired.

Those words opened my eyes. They were so true to the state of Iraq under Saddam's regime. We all worked for Saddam under a state of fear. We couldn't trust anybody. We couldn't change our life patterns for fear of ending up in a prison cell or getting executed for mistakes as simple as saying the right thing to the wrong person.

For more than 30 years Iraqis lived like robots. We were told what to do, where to turn, what to eat, what to say. We were definitely slaves if not robots. We whispered our frustration with this state of fear to our close family members and friends only.

Then the American troops came to remove Saddam's regime. I have no doubt the American people have the highest wishes to see a happy, free, and prosperous Iraq. Like many Iraqis know well, the American government didn't remove Saddam for our black eyes ( سواد عيوننا ) as Iraqis say. But, we accepted the deal because we wanted to see an end to the long living misery of Iraq and Iraqis.

There's a debate between anti-war and pro-war people that America had no after-war plan in Iraq. I don't know what plan would've worked for Iraq. I say this because, as an Iraqi, I'm as puzzled as anyone else with Iraqis right now. I always thought with as many educated people we have in Iraq, Iraqis would take the task upon their shoulders to rebuild Iraq.

Two years have passed. Other than the few Iraqi bloggers who are positive about the changes in Iraq, the only other standard news we hear in the blogs and media is WHINING.

Almost every Middle Easterner, including most Iraqis, will tell you America is in Iraq for the oil. That's fine with me. But, let's imagine we wake up tomorrow morning and find out the oil was just a mirage. What's next? What else do we have that's better than oil? What else will make us stand differently than other nations?

As a programmer, I follow the outsourcing of programming jobs to India. First, you'd think it's about cheap labor. That's fine with me too as it's part of the reason corporate companies outsource jobs to other countries. But, have you ever wondered why these jobs are sent to India and NOT to a place in the Middle East?

There are different answers to this question. First, Indian people are very educated and smart people in general. Well, you'll say "Middle Easterners, including Iraqis, are smart too."

Well, most Indians speak English fluently. You'll say "But, many Middle Easterners, including Iraqis, speak English fluently too."

These are two good arguments. But, there's something else Indians have that we don't have. That important "thing" is not being afraid to lose their identity or culture when foreign countries invest in their country. They're simply open for competition and investment. They're also open to other cultures. They're proud and confident people. Being exposed to other cultures or speaking a different language don't scare them at all.

Unfortunately, many Iraqis are more concerned about losing their language and culture than joining the efforts to make their country a better one. More than 30 years under Saddam's regime made them unaware that the world has become flat.

An Iraqi blogger wrote me in a private e-mail:

We are a problem, and if we won't make it this time while having the chance, then we better forget about Iraq for good. The biggest problem we have is our own people and how barbaric, ungrateful, self-centered, shameless and delusional we can be.

the above e-mail, Akba's latest post titled A nut-house called IRAQ and Steven Vincent's latest article prompted me to write this post.

For heaven's sake Iraqis, stop whining and start rebuilding Iraq before it's too late. We were given a golden chance to change our destiny that's been ignored. And, stop watching Oprah Winfrey's show. It only makes you cry. Start watching Dr. Phil's show. It tells you to get smart, get real and get going.

The World Is Flat

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