Time flies,Do we care? [Archives:2004/794/Viewpoint]

November 29 2004

I would like to make an interesting comparison between the world and Yemen in terms of the value of time. The fact that in the rest of the world, time actually flies. This saying is indeed quite surprisingly true nowadays more than ever. Things are coming one after the other very quickly in a pace never anticipated.
Let's take the press for instance. News reports come and go on the fly. Conflicts here, accidents there, agreements here, and workshops there. It is a world accelerating so quickly to the level that we are simply unable to cope with as well as we'd like to some days.
This reminds me of the time I visited Japan and saw how Japanese people would literally run along the sidewalks to reach appointments, make deals, and do other things that are for them vital and necessary for their work.
The same case applies for other developed countries, which are giving time the greatest value it ever had since the time of cavemen. Yet one feels pity for their children and grandchildren who would have to live in a world of continuous stress and anxiety realizing that time is definitely not on their side.
Now, let's take the comparison to Yemen and see how time is valued here.
I was in Aden a few weeks ago and noticed how in some ways, time is simply stuck in this part of the country. I saw people lying on the sidewalk with qat in their mouth chewing pleasantly and looking at the whole world and its developments with little care.
They are still happy about it. They know that they don't have a lot else to do, so why panic and worry?
A lot of people in Yemen are suffering from isolation because they don't think they need to do anything in their spare time, which is in fact, most of the time. A statistic revealing that more than 20 million hours are wasted everyday on Qat shows how severe our situation is.
But who cares?
As one guy once told me, why care about the world when you are deeply satisfied inside and comfortable on your mattress chewing qat and watching the world go crazy?
It is indeed an interesting philosophy, but which in my opinion is not entirely correct, because such thinking makes us suffice with the level of quality of life we are living in today. It makes us not think or plan further than our nose, and makes us depend on things to solve themselves automatically.
I'm afraid that reality shows that such imagination is a formula for suicide.
Today, Yemen is suffering from an unprecedented unemployment rate. We have crossed all the red lines in level of poverty. We are facing a nearing water crisis, and we may as well end up in drought if nothing is done.
Doesn't this mean that lying on the sidewalk chewing qat is the solution?
I believe that even though a lot of Yemenis claim that God will take care of things, this is wrongly understood. God will not bring food to our mouths. This illusion will have to be removed out the heads of Yemenis if we are to have a better future.
Let us all realize the problem. We have a problem of perception of culture and of awareness. It comes back to education, some may say. But I also believe that role models in the country should increase in number to help show the entire Yemeni community that work and extra work will not harm. “Hard work never hurts,” is my dad used to say.
This is the time when we are very much in need for such a vision.