From constrainedto creative & from reactive to proactive [Archives:2004/741/Opinion]

May 27 2004

By A. Sallam Qasem
[email protected]

Tired and bored of hearing the same statements of Arab leaders' disagreement as every summit approaches, then their pre-written decision at the end of the summit, we , the Arab people, are doing exactly the same, but at the other end of the spectrum. “Arab nations are frustrated, and angry”, “Arab nations stormed to the street protesting against the injustice laid upon them by their regimes, the West, and Israel”. I believe all of us have heard the above statements many times, repeated again and again, for many years and many events. What interests me in the above statements are two points: one is the reaction mentioned, “protesting”; the second is us being reactive.
To repeat the same steps and expect different results is naive. To just storm into the streets in furious moments, shouting out your thoughts once more and expecting an action from the Arabic regimes is, to be polite, naive. I am not suggesting we don't protest, but don't just protest with high expectations, because it will simply frustrate you even more. We need to think out side the box, the very small box of our current list of reactions. We need to think with long term solutions and consequences in mind. We go to the street and we come back home satisfied and content about ourselves. We have just paid our duty to the cause, it is time to go home, and forget all about it again.
I am not asking for daily protests, or unrest and constant worry. I am calling for consciousness in all our work towards goals, to start actions with results in mind, to vary in our reactions to ensure success. Instead of only marching in the streets condemning the death of Ahmed Yassin, for example, how about we collectively finance an author to write an accurate biography about the sheikh. Instead of protesting against price hikes, how about starting a pressure campaign on members of parliament from each our respective regions to demand opposition or modification. Instead of being limited by protesting, how about more limitless, out of the box, more effective and results focused, alternatives.
The more important point in this article is “being reactive” in the first place. Arabs are reactionary, Yemenis are reactive. I am not trying to be rude, but to criticize bluntly a hindering attribute. The fact is we always react, we almost never pro-act. I have never heard of a protest in support of Ahmed Yassin in recognition to his efforts before he was assassinated.
As normal people, we forgot, we get busy going through our normal life routines, then out of nowhere, in our perception, America invades Iraq, Israel Kills Ahmed Yassin, and so on. Then we remember. We feel obliged to react (if we didn't help them before, at least let's show them some sympathy). We “react”. We feel better about ourselves (although the situation still as is). We forget again.
Nobody could ask the whole Arabic population to just keep focusing on these events, and forget about their daily lives. But what we could do is specialization, something similar to the concept of “Farth Al-Kifaeeh” in the Islamic Sharaih, where a group of specialized people devote there time to accomplish a certain task, but it is the obligation of the whole nation to support them. Otherwise, everybody is responsible for the consequences. For example, we should not wait for the government to fix our economy. We should support independent organizations to research how to fix our economy, to come up with plans and recommendations, and then help in implementing those recommendations. We should support such organizations financially and morally, because otherwise we would just keep protesting, and they will just keep ignoring us.