It’s Time (Seven Years Later And Other Thoughts)

“God help us from those who believe that they are the sole possessors of truth. How we manage at times to agree willingly to become prisoners within our own minds and souls of beliefs and ideas on which we can never be flexible. How can we resolve problems if we do not place ourselves in the position of others with whom we have problems? How can we move ahead if we do not have mutual respect for each other, and stemming from it…trust?”

Today, this blog finishes its seventh year. It was perhaps the most dramatic and turbulent years in the country’s recent history, and I think a great deal of what I’ve written these past 12 months is a reflection of that. I usually take this time, this day, this post, to reflect on the past. It’s usually a chance for me to see what lessons I can personally glean from my own writings and from the events that have unfolded in the Kingdom these past few years. The only problem is that this past year is so dominant in my mind that it clouds out everything else. In other words, I’m forced to look at the present over the past. And when looking at the present, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this confused or unsure of things. Reflecting on everything, I’ve actually tried to reduce the frequency of writing on this blog this past year due to the fact that the situation is incredibly confusing. It’s kind of ironic I suppose as I clearly remember many of the days that would pass me by in past years when I’d wish something was going on worth writing about, worth talking about, worth debating. And then 2011 comes along and the words come out all jumbled; the thoughts scattering like birds amidst the confusion.

From protests, to movements, to critics, to government political maneuverings, to parliamentary absurdities, to media blunderings, corruption case after corruption case, a dwindling economic state, statements, tribalism, suspicions, conspiracies, loyalties, thugs,  rallies, pop-patriotism, and more and more and more. Of course, this is to say nothing of the region that surrounds us, and affects us, and manipulates our political landscape unpredictably.

And in the midst of all this…the picking of sides is demanded of us. Everyone wants to know where you stand. Are you “with” or “against”? And for the life of me, I haven’t a clue as to what we’re supposed to be “with” and what we’re supposed to be “against”. But it doesn’t matter. There’s black and there’s white, and you’re supposed to pick a color and stick to it – all in a country that is immersed in a thicket of grey. And when we pick a side, we’re supposed to apparently attack the other side. If we disagree with them, we tear them apart. If we don’t agree with their opinions we’re supposed to insult them, their background, their personal lives, etc. Disagreement is good, but this kind of animosity towards one another is on a whole other level. There’s a game being played on a chess board, and everyone is shifting themselves around to counter the other’s moves. And it is all so, very, very, very tiring.

For the first time in a long time, I cannot see the way forward. And everyday, something seems to happen that reminds of that fact; something that makes the fog around us thicker and thicker.

All this is enough to keep a person from writing. A part of you might want to speak and articulate a thought, but with so many elements at play, with so much polarization, with so much aggravation, so much animosity towards one another, you have to wonder if it’s worth it. If not for anything else, but for one’s own sanity. Perhaps even for one’s own safety. For the sake of not descending in to that dark abyss of cynicism, dispair and hopelessness. One wishes only good things for the country he or she resides in or belongs to, and in one way or another, tries to work towards that. But it becomes incredibly difficult to do this when the light at the end of the tunnel is not only dim, but blocked by so many shadows in the foreground. And those shadows belong to us. All of us. In every statement, every comment, every response, every thought articulated in the public domain – all of it plays a role. We remain our own worst enemy, and this is the worst time in any country’s history to play that role. This is the worst time to become prisoners within our own minds and souls; to be the possessors of inflexible ideas.

With that in mind, the only personal resolve I have when it comes to the future is to try and elevate the debate. Our public discourse has been dragged down so low by the maddening crowd that its probably time to start a new chapter. I’m not demanding consensus, but rather respect. This pillar has been increasingly absent from the public discussion, allowing egos to clash and personal vendettas, suspicions and loyalties to play out instead. I think this country and its people deserve to have a better debate; an elevated discourse. I think we deserve to have a discussion built on respect and not animosity. I think we deserve to grapple with the bigger issues, as tough, complex, grey, sensitive, controversial and confusing as they are – without having to feel like we’re under attack.

I do think it’s time for something better. And that’s my personal resolve this year.

p.s. if you’re wondering who the author of the quote above is – that would be HM King Hussein.

Thought Is Free...

27 Comments

  1. Well, this was scary. BUT, denial is no longer a river in Jordan, and that is a positive note in this stark reality. Here’s to living in the gray, resolving to respect, and thanking God for another year of your blog.
    (I always read these bottom-up to make sure you aren’t stopping)

  2. Nas, to echo Roba…happy blogoversary ;-)

    I have always monitored your writing and blogs all the way here in London, as a way to make sense of what is happening in Jordan and so too the region, from a neutral and grass roots level and angle, so thanks for that. The Jordanian media scene is flooded with so much hot air and BS, it’s hard to navigate through. So although you feel it hard to navigate through your own thoughts, rest assured that your writing has provided great navigation to readers far and wide. I hope that you can keep writing, regardless of the unclear paths and confusing thoughts, since when was blogging or writing meant to make 100% sense, it’s always been for the reader to interpret, from Holy books, to fiction, non-fiction … and everyday journalism.

    Naseem for PM in a one day democratic HKJ

    All the best buddy

  3. Happy blogoversary Nas, for a few seconds you scared me, and to be honest, the whole situation these days scares. But hopefully, we can dig a light at the end of this long and damn dark tunnel

    I’ve seen the dialog descend into hell on the polarized ideas, I thought I could stay away from it and just focus at what’s at hand. It won’t be easy and I won’t be doing that. But at least, we can try to keep our heads above water and hope that the few sane minds left will be able to harbor some form of civilized dialogue

    Anyway, Happy blogoversary, and best of luck in this year. For you, family, and the entire nation

  4. @Kinzi: thanks a bunch, and appreciate your reading.

    @Maan: thanks for the well wishes and for sticking by the blog all these years. i think the rise of electronic-newspapers has made things more confusing as headlines swoop past us on an hourly basis. it’s good to try and pause just to make sense of the scene. all the best my friend!

    @Qwaider: thanks man. much appreciated. i guess keeping our heads above water best describes this situation.

  5. You have been a fixture in my day for so long. Proud to see how your writing has matured and
    Has taken your readership on such rich odysseys of the mind. Many thanks

  6. Happy blogoversary,
    I think we deserve to have a discussion built on respect and not animosity.I think you are right,cauz,we dont need problems and escalation at this time.

  7. Indeed ..more dialogue and exchange and genuine collaborative search for solutions and less arguments and blame and finger pointing..thanks …seven is a very auspicious number at so many levels…best of luck going forward

  8. Alf Mabrook, Naseem…
    I’m here in San Francisco and you’re one of the few ways I keep grounded on news from the homeland… keep it up… and thanks for all the work.

  9. Congratulations Naseem. I echo everyone else’ positive comments. Your blog indeed offers a deep, objective, and analytical view of the landscape in Jordan and the region. Keep up the good work.

  10. Happy blogversary Mr. Tarawnah. Alf Mabrook. I’ve been reading ur blog since I first came to Jordan here in 2008.

  11. The way I see it is the same way Nariman al-Rousan, Jordanian Member of Parliament sees it. Not saying anything is better than saying something.

  12. مبروك ، ولكن في المقابل اود تذكير المدونون والمدونات ، المدونة الأردنية اناس مسلم تلقت طعنة سكين من بلطجي عند خروجها من دار الفنون في جبل الويبدة
    http://enassmusallam.blogspot.com/2012/02/blog-post_19.html

  13. This is why she was stabbed عمان Ù€ ‘القدس العربي’ من منال الشملة: تعرضت مدونة اردنية شابة تدعى ايناس مسلم ناشطة في الحراك الشبابي الى الطعن في بطنها في عمان الاثنين، حسبما افاد بيان صادر عن الحملة الوطنية من أجل حقوق الطلبة ‘ذبحتونا’ الثلاثاء.
    وقال البيان ان ‘ايناس ابراهيم مسلم الطالبة في السنة الرابعة في الجامعة الأردنية تعرضت للطعن في بطنها من قبل شخص مجهول كان يرتدي قفازات وغطاء على الوجه والرأس، حيث قام بالهجوم عليها قرب دارة الفنون في منطقة اللويبدة (وسط عمان) مساء الاثنين’.
    وعاد وزير الدولة لشؤون الاعلام والاتصال الناطق الرسمي باسم الحكومة راكان المجالي الثلاثاء ايناس في مستشفى لوزميلا في عمان للاطمئنان على صحتها، حسبما افادت وكالة الانباء الاردنية الرسمية.

  14. Happy Anniversary Nasim.
    Although I don’t claim to read your blog regularly, or for a few years (I was introduced to it within the past year through a story on great Middle Eastern blogs on CNN), when I do get a chance to read it, I tend to read all that I missed, including comments. Funny how some names / comments are so predictable, and sad that they take your blog as a spot to spread backwards ideologies. I personally don’t think this is the place for such cheap tactics. Never the less, it’s still a great blog.
    In any case, I have to admit that I am glad you are confused. I often come here to read true news, and make some sense of what is going on. After all, I don’t have access to many sources (or I don’t know of many sources I should say) for good true media, representing what’s going on in the country. The reason I am glad you’re confused, is because I too am one heck of a confused person, and I am glad I am not alone. I honestly have nothing to say. I don’t know who is full of S*%t and who really wants good change. Some protests make no sense to me, and while I am all for free speech, some seem to have nothing valid to say. I just want what’s best for the country and at this point, I am clueless as to who or what will offer that. Stability however seems to be taking over my thought process, and I find myself agreeing with some “stone ag”e arguments that my mom makes. Sad but true.

  15. I have to say that for a little while in my life, a couple of years ago, I was drifting towards political and social apathy, just because so much of it was too depressing for me. Reading your blog was one of the things that kept me from sinking into such apathy, not just because you so profoundly understand the political landscape and psyche of this society, but mostly because you’re genuine, transparent, self-aware and always respectful.. all of which are exactly what we lack, and so desperately need, in our dialog and discourse..congrats and good luck; gotta feeling it’s going be a busy year for you..

  16. Well, while taking the risk of clicheness, Happy Blogversary just sounds right :)

    Thanks for keeping your blog all these years, everyone involved in political blogging got tired and stopped while you are still running like the Energizer bunny.

    Thanks for taking all the time and efforts to come up with the well informed and well balanced views you shape it for us to help us shape our own views.

    Your blog is a very interesting and very important source for local whats-going-on briefs and analyses and a place i always reckon i would find comfort when i am craving food for the mokh.

    kol 3am o inta bkher akhi naseem, its about time to meet again its been a while! keep me in mind for the next interesting event or gathering!

  17. Keep up the good fight! I wimp out quite a bity and steer clear of the gooey details of politics. thanks for continually getting your hands dirty

    Respect,
    Brett

  18. Probably one of your best blogs naseem…keep it up.

    I think the double edgged sword of social media is that people can voice their opinions without any accountability and annonymously, which has undermined our values of respect.

    Sometimes I make it a point to refrain from reading the comments section following articles and blogs including yours because I dont want to see how low people can stoop.

    The level of debate has become an issue of great despair for me personally…people are simplistic in their opinions and love to generalize.

    Great job

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