Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rented Countries

I spent part of the morning in the square watching and photographing a group of young Egyptian students wearing plastic gloves taking garbage in both hands and neatly scooping it into black plastic bags to keep the area clean. This touched me in particular because more than once in this column I have quoted the aphorism that “in the history of the world no one has ever washed a rented car.” I used it to make the point that no one has ever washed a rented country either — and for the last century Arabs have just been renting their countries from kings, dictators and colonial powers. So, they had no desire to wash them.

Out of Touch, Out of Time -

This reminds me of the time when Kuwait was under occupation by the Iraqis. All Kuwaitis volunteered to serve their country. There was the barber, the street cleaner.. etc. When Kuwait was liberated, the youth fell back to their comfort. Adversity made people cling to their country and gave them a sense of ownership when the enemy was trying to take it away from them. Once this adversity vanished we returned to renting the land.

The events in Egypt and Tunisia before that, and God knows who is next, are once in a lifetime monumental events. The people have awakened and asserted their ownership of the land! May this spirit spread to every repressed corner of this universe be it a country or otherwise..


Zaydoun said...

I was thinking the exact same thing today

Touché said...

Interesting perspective, I wonder how would people react if the sense of ownership the constant norm, will they keep preserving it or take it for granted and grow greedier maybe!!

Leblanc Jacques said...

I listen to comments here in Europe, about Tunisia and Egypt, on the radio or on TV, asking whether democracy is now solidly rooted in those country. The westerners seems to forget the exemples of european countries, e.g. France where the "roots" of the republican regime did not get any consensus until 1875, or 86 years after the french revolution. It is another contempt for those countries to expect they can do it in a week time. Specially in Egypt where Moubarak is gone but the military is still controlling the show, the military which produced Neguib, Nasser, Sadate and Moubarak. I wish Tunisia and Egypt are on the right track, but let them time to reach the goal.

Bu Ziyad said...

Touche: When the sense of ownership is the constant norm you get western style liberal democracy.. this will always be subject for mistakes and abuse.. but as Churchill - I think- once said democracy is the worst system except for the others that have been tried here and there..

Jacques: Thank you for the interesting and necessary to remember perspective.. I could not agree more! It will not be a magic wand! How many republics have France -the oldest democracy- been through?!

Touché said...

That's interesting, which makes me wonder, will I ever witness it in my life time:)

I hope we end up with a real ownership sense for our country instilled into our fabric and then we will see what turns we will witness.