Ever read some of Bahraniat's piece's? I like her style, which she has continued to refine, of putting things on the table that in most of today's Arab societies, such as satire, driving, terrorism and such, which would not be quite Halal. Good for her too! A lot of these issues need to be raised if the Arab Nation is serious about finding a place for itself in the post-modern world.
Last week, she posted an article about a friend who "paid" his way through college. For BD2000, our man never attended a day of class at a university in India, never sat for an exam, never handed in a homework assignment or a research project, nor did he attend his own graduation ceremony, yet is now the proud owner of a 4-year college degree. By the way, you call that about USD5000, for one semester of ball-busting classes at your local in-state school. It didn't take long for her and I to agree on the problem which is the culture which makes such shenanigans permissible. In the Middle East, we call it 'Wasta'. By the way you call it nepotism for which most westerners have the greatest of disdain.
The word "Wasta" is related to the arabic word for middle or conduit, and in its context refers to the person who has access to all the necessary resources to move matters of business along. He is the person in the center of the network and therefore the man to go through to get what you needed. Whereas the West has the mantra of "location, location, location" that emphasizes a business strategy of being at the right place at the right time, the Middle East has one that says "wasta, wasta, wasta" which emphasizes a business, and ultimately a life strategy of being around the right person at the right time.
The system evolved to preserve the social structure of the tribe. It allowed for the leadership to distribute the tribe's wealth as they deemed in their wisdom and experience would preserve peace and harmony. They would grant access to opportunities to those most deserving or to those who would otherwise be left behind, at their discretion. It is also important to keep the tribe from weakening itself, therefore internal competition is avoided. This works great in a situation where there is enough of the pie to go around and the tribes liabilities are few. In a harsh environment where the key to survival is to band together as a group, it is paramount that resources and advantages remain as close to the center of the tribe as possible. However, that's no longer the case. The Arab world is losing out economically with declining GDPs, booming populations and fewer opportunities for self-advancement. This situation does not bode well for the psyche of a people that reputably subscribes to fatalism without question. As things get worse, society tends to group more tightly to the center, and more and more opportunities and resources remain in the hands of those who have access. Most Arabs educated themselves in order to compete with the system which now seemingly rewards laziness and blind loyalty. The downward spiral that shut them out has truly become insult added to injury.
As Bahrainiat's predicament has shown, the established channels seem to be more interested in keeping the access within the family rather than bringing in the kind of expertise and work ethic that could expand that access and perhaps improve the welfare of more than one aspect of society. Even when it's right under their noses, it goes ignored for the sake of preserving the status quo. Believe you me, it's not just overweight white men that are afraid of change.
So what is one to do about this? Any and all of us conscientious objectors have been challenged to seek an alternative elsewhere if we think the situation is so bad. Hey, one less mouth to feed or to have to listen to! It's what we have to deal with; let's not rock the boat and play nice for everyones sake. However, that's where the problem is, the boat is heading over the falls and needs to be turned around.
That is why many of us have jumped ship. We're the ones that have decided that best way to make it in this world is to write our own tickets and make our own mark; to trade on our own names and reputations than on those of others. We are the ones that will establish our own networks to suit the modern world and to change what is written. We are the ones who will take the risks, bear the costs and the losses of shooting off on our own; hopefully to be followed by the rewards of our own honest gain.
A few years ago, a well qualified middle-aged man was selected to a high-profile position. He was an uncontroversial figure who had the respect of his peers. Yet when the University of Notre Dame's football program found that George O'Leary had inaccuracies about his early career on his resume, they promptly fired their coach of five days. This made him the most controversial story of resume padding until you-know-who was or was not in the Texas Air Guard.