Respect of Others Begins with Self Respect [Archives:1999/43/Viewpoint]

October 25 1999

It is so unfortunate that until today and less than 2 and half months before the turn of the millennium, we are yet to understand that the respect of others only comes after respecting oneself. An incident that truly confirmed this to me was the one of last week. While I was driving to the office around 10:00 am back from a meeting outside, I heard the sound of the police cars approaching towards me from behind. The sound was getting louder and louder. Being in a main street, I understood that the police cars were part of a convoy protecting one of the prominent figures in the society. As I tried to turn my small car to the right in an attempt to get away from the convoy’s path, I was surprised to find out that the convey had already begun passing by my right. I heard voices coming from the guards in the convoy shouting, “get lost out of the way!” “Move it before we kick you out,”, and other insulting statements. Of course, I could not listen to them because I would then go unto the sidewalk, so I ignored them in the hope that they would peacefully bypass me from the right, because there was plenty of room for them to go through.
The expressions on their faces and the way they talked made me understand that they were not happy about my decision, so they slammed my car with probably their weapons in a sudden and abrupt manner, and then I saw them laughing in a sarcastic manner. In anger, I tried to chase them, but my two friends who were with me in the car advised me not to clash with them.”You are not of their size, you better swallow your pain and anger and pretend as if nothing happened. Please, do not get yourself into trouble and behave foolishly like them”, they said. Those statements hurt my emotions and dignity badly.
This incident had surely shown me that there is no respect whatsoever to the people by these guys. How can such a person later expect that he would be respected and valued among the people?
This had confirmed to me that we in Yemen still have a long way to go in our democratization process until we truly value the people and their will. The people in charge sometimes think that they are superior and should be obeyed by the people. They do not realize that they are the servants of the people, and should in every possible way service and respect them.
At this particular moment, I feel that it would be suitable to recall the story of a western leader. Once the leader was driving a speeding car. Hence he was given a traffic ticket for his violation. Can you imagine what his response was? He apologized to the officers, and paid the fees and continued his way.
This incident is truly a good example of what democracy is all about. It shows that in a democratic country, all people are equal, a president, a soldier, a teacher, and even a shoemaker; all are equal under law. We need to understand in Yemen that unless we reach that stage of true democracy, we will continue to be humiliated in such incidents, and we will have no other choice other than to swallow our pains hoping for a better tomorrow. Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf Chief Editor