Why Some of Us Look Elsewhere for Security
Wajeha Al-Huwaider GÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³ Special to Arab News
A father beats his son so brutally that blood is drawn. The boy is then left in that condition but he asks his younger brother to take a picture of what he looks like as a result of the beating. The boy’s wounds never heal completely for as soon as healing begins, his father beats him again. This is not fiction. It is a true story that happens every day here in the Kingdom.
Some might say that such domestic violence happens in our society behind closed doors and that no one knows anything about it. True. What makes this story different from others is that the son took pictures of himself, his brothers and his mother who were beaten by their father. The boy also wrote down the dates and kept them in a file for evidence. He wanted to prosecute his father for pretending to be a good husband and father while in reality, he was a sadist.
What is also different in this story is that the boy was born in the United States and so has the right be become a US citizen. Because of that fact, the boy has something to live for. He longs for the day he can flee to the US. He wants to take his father to court and give back to his family their long-forgotten rights. He believes that the United States, represented by President George W. Bush, is his last hope because the institutions in his own country have done nothing to help him and have allowed his brutal father to go unpunished.
This is a true story. Whether or not the boy will make it to the US, I do not know.
Another matter that some might think is exaggerated though it is a reality is that we do not seem to pay attention to the phenomenon of our women crying out for America’s help. I have met some of these women. Some of them actually think that only the US can put an end to the appalling conditions they exist under. They dream of the day the US will come to rescue them. Some of these women are divorcees who have found justice in neither their marriages nor their divorces. Others have not been allowed to work or to complete their studies. Their guardians keep them locked up and have confiscated their passports. Now they are waiting for George Bush’s administration to free them because the institutions in their own country have failed to do so.
Once again, these things are true. These are imprisoned women who live among us, forbidden from tasting freedom simply because they are ambitious and have their dreams.
There was an interesting survey by Al-Jazeera TV recently. The survey covered more than 1,000 people and its question was: Would you welcome invading American troops into your country?
The question required either a “Yes” or “No.” The result was 52 percent “No” and 48 percent “Yes.”
Though we cannot rely on the survey’s being done according to correct scientific procedures, it does tell us something about the emotions of the people participating in it. It also means that hatred and anger from political groups and appalling social conditions might one day drive people to become like the Iraqi opposition groups.
It could also be the reason for such unfortunate individuals as the abused boy and the deprived women to dream that the US will one day return to them their human dignity.
What we have to deal with and what we have to tell ourselves honestly is that we have failed as a society to build bridges between these unfortunate people and our country. We have not provided them with the simplest necessities such as feeling secure and respected as citizens of this land. We have not offered them solutions to their problems, such as creating more jobs or offering more opportunities for studying. No official has done his duty by implementing the laws that would secure those people’s rights. We have made the guardians into dictators and given them a free hand to do what they want to their family, even if what they want is torture. Patriotism, love of country and a sense of belonging are values that people are not born with. Neither are they taught in a school curriculum. They are acquired and then increased. They grow stronger or weaker according to real conditions. And those conditions depend upon whether our guardians live up to their God-given responsibilities as fathers, officials, and rulers.
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(Wajeha Al-Huwaider holds an MA in Reading Management from George Washington University. She is based in the Eastern Province.)Arab News
Features 30 May 2003