Sunday, July 18, 2004

It’s the Foreigners’ Fault

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

Here, we have a serious attitude problem. We seem to disagree on an awful lot of things, but agree on one: Foreign hands are responsible for much of our ills and predicaments; we are blame free, and it is always somebody else’s mistake.
Just listen to preachers, teachers and public speakers. Read what our intellectuals, columnists and analysts are telling us in the media everyday. It seems that there is a general agreement on the responsibility and involvements of “others” in almost everything, from security problems to flaws in education, unemployment to capital flight, immorality to corruption, crimes to car accidents. Saudis are mostly victims to foreign plots, schemes and conspiracies.
I ask these interesting, educated brains, how anyone, but ourselves, could be possibly responsible for this suspicion, misunderstanding and even hate of those who look different, think different, or pray in a different way?
Who taught our kids in schools not to be independent thinkers and free scientific researchers, and just follow set rules and thoughts? Who designed our curriculum to be so theoretical and unpractical, and so unresponsive to market realities and needs? Who developed our faulty development plans? And who neglected our economic problems until it was almost too late to fix? We did.
Now, you can tell me from this moment till morning that the West doesn’t love us, Israel hates us, and America is not a reliable friend, and I won’t even argue. But I will ask in return, are we so hapless that we let the others lead us to our demise without objecting, resisting or even thinking?
How have countries like Malaysia managed to move from an agricultural to a high-tech economy, from poor to rich, and from ignorant to highly educated nation, without the help of the rich natural resources we are blessed with?
And, hey, they did this without sacrificing their Islamic values or principles. So, let’s put this lame excuse of the contradiction between modernity and religion to rest.
My fellow Saudis, ladies and gentlemen, unless we own up to our mistakes, we will just stand by as the world moves on at light speed, play victim, blame foreigners, pray for an easy victory over our enemies, and wait for a savior or a God-made miracle.
Allah doesn’t do the job for the lazy, and prayers without hard work are not accepted. So, let’s admit our faults, realize our failures, and seriously look for remedies.
In the meantime, just for once, forget about foreign conspiracies and cease foreign bashing.
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