The difference between order and kindness [Archives:2001/16/Focus]

April 16 2001

Nadia Al-Saqqaf
Yemen Times
How many times in your life, have you been in the process of some regulations, got stuck with one signature because the person concerned can not be found? That is a lack of order. How many times, have you been almost run down by a speedy Toyota trying to make it before the traffic light turns red? And how many times were you not able to take your car out of parking place because some body parked his car blocking your way and left? That is a lack of order. Again, how many times was your name dropped from a list because of miscommunication between the sending and receiving parties? That is also a lack of order.
Now, how many times in your life, are you able to buy something even as the shop keeper just closed the door, but for you he reopens and gives you what you want? That is kindness. And how many times, you are able to find a place just because someone devoted some of his time to go all the way with you in order you find the place. That is kindness. Still, how many times, someone does something for you, out of the way, just because you needed it. Someone whose job is not to tell you, do for you or show you and still he does it? That is also kindness.
The answer, I am sure, vary from several times to many. The examples above are instances of a lack of order, and of kindness found evident in our Yemen. In fact, it’s something common among Arabs in general.
In the developed world, we won’t find disorders such as the ones we encounter here. However, it is also true that we would hardly find any display of generosity as the ones we find here. If you lived in the western world, you would have seen this and even if the man in charge was there, he would have told you to come tomorrow, because it’s after his working hour. That is called order. Rules are strictly followed. It’s good because it makes life more organized and systematic. But what happens if you are a little late? Or if you desperately need to reach somewhere and you don’t have the time to figure out how to go on your own? Order does not help you there as much as kindness does. I am not saying that lets forget about organizing our lives and following rules. Mind you, I am saying that such displays of generosity, and having the time for you are characteristics of our Yemeni society we must appreciate. We keep criticizing and saying that we are an under developed country, there are so many things missing in the regime, the system is imbalanced, and in all that chaos we forget the simple, small, beautiful things that people do. These make life easier and happier.
Dr. Mohammed Al Shuaibi of the X-Ray section at Al Sabeen hospital reminded me of this. When it wasn’t his duty at all, he helped me find my way through the corridors and get an injection done. Salute to Dr. Mohammed and to all the nice people who make our lives easier in spite of all this mess we live in.
We may be a society lacking order miserably, but we are by all means kind. And it is this kindness in us that makes us the special people we are, who are loved and remembered by any foreigner who visits this country, even if just a passer by.