Social responsibility [Archives:2005/835/Viewpoint]

April 21 2005

For certain legal violations, western legislations occasionally impose a punishment on the violators that includes community service. These can range from helping old people cross the streets to professional lawyers providing unpaid legal defense in court.

But people don't need to violate the law to do community service, for there are hundreds if not thousands of associations and community service agencies that people can sign up to to serve their communities in a productive and organized way.

Arabic culture has practices concerning community relations where the able help the disabled and the rich help the poor, etc. The “Zakat,” or alms procedure for example, takes place in a very systematic way where a fixed percentage of a person's wealth that is above a certain amount gets deducted annually, but even this is a state's affair which happens without much participation from the community.

Perhaps most of our problems in Yemen as a community are due to our lack of social responsibility or initiative. So many things could be helped if only someone made a little more effort or felt a little more responsible. Simple things like getting to an appointment on time, returning phone calls, completing a task to the end, rechecking on completed work, making sure precautions are taken, and ensuring quality presentation, all contribute to improving the way that society functions. Just by taking that extra step, life could be simpler and Yemenis could enjoy a better standard of living. For example, instead of digging roads on parallel streets for drainage network or electricity cables and obstructing traffic for days, the cable authority could do one street at a time and finish their job professionally.

It is a matter of feeling responsible towards the people we provide the service to and to the community as a whole. What would it take to install this value in our culture and in the younger generations who are the future of this country? If only people put in a little more effort to do their jobs in a better way. It is sad to see all the potential of Yemen and its people in terms of human and material resources wasted because the people who process this country are too lazy or too careless to get their job done efficiently.

What is more frustrating is that most Yemenis abroad are tremendously successful and are very efficient in their fields. So is it about the environment that creates this human culture in Yemen or is it the people who create this environment? The chicken or the egg? It's even sadder when talking to many of the Yemenis who live abroad and asking them if they would like to come back to Yemen to stay and they say “NO”. Why is that? Simply because the culture of this country is not helping them progress, living in Yemen you would have to either chew Qat, get sedated and watch your life progress from bad to worse, or go mad because there are so many things wrong that should and could have been right.

Why are we in Yemen not taking the responsibility towards our community and future generations seriously? Perhaps it is left to the intellectuals and responsible people in this country to set things straight, to give more insight into the community about social responsibility and creating a change, a real change.