A little humble pie? [Archives:2004/714/Viewpoint]

February 23 2004

There is some sort of attribute that I noticed in most, not all, ministers and top officials in Yemen, and that is lack of humbleness. One remembers their politeness, openness, and friendliness when they used to be 'regular citizens,' but when they were given such a prestigious position, they suddenly became awkward to deal with, arrogant, unfriendly, and in some extreme cases, aggressive.
There is a well-known Arab proverb saying that “Whoever is at top will not last there, and so will those at the bottom.” It is pitiful to see that power not only corrupts in terms of money and wealth, but also corrupts in term of attitude and morals. I have heard this proverb spoken out by a citizen who apparently didn't have enough money and connections to reach the minister with his application. “I urge God to take my revenge,” he shouted while virtually being kicked out by guards.
In my opinion, part of our misery is due to this problem. The arrogant behavior of our officials causes a widening gap between them and the people, which directly influences all our country's efforts towards achieving greater development.
This should not be the case. As a matter of fact, persons who reach to high ranking positions should ) different to what is happening now ) be more polite, open, and friendly because now they are seen as an example for others to follow.
I remember reading one of the diaries of a president of a state saying, “I know I have been oppressive and mighty. I know I was unjust and cruel. But people around me used to smile and express delight. I know they were lying as they hated me more than anyone else. I wonder how they would have felt if I were good.”
Too bad not many leaders think of being good examples to follow in terms of respect, politeness, humble attitude, and other positive individual features that create a good person before a good president. That is why many ministers blame their leaders for the way they are acting.
Our president is our leader, and if he acts in a negative way, he serves as an example to all others. It can even be a justification for acting cruelly if the head of state is doing so.
What I intend to say through this column is that power and wealth come and go, but good deeds, humbleness, politeness and kindness to others will always stay.
I hope our officials listen to this message, as any reform for the sake of the country, should start from within one's self.
Then other things will come naturally.