Sunday, February 6, 2011

On Living in the Middle East

Many people have asked me what it's like to be living in the Middle East at this time. One of my friends was watching a news show that had a chalk drawing of North Africa and the Middle East. They had placed little drawn flames on all countries that are currently in turmoil. The flames covered the map- Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan. That's an impressive list! Here in Kuwait, things are calm. The Gulf Region (Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain) is a tiny rich enclave in an often unstable region. The people in my corner of the world are kept content (or at least silent) but a constant flow of money and government perks. And yet, this is also a country that is 2/3 foreigners- many of whom hail from Egypt and surrounding countries. The past few weeks have been a constant murmur of voices- anxious Egyptians following the news 24 hours a day, citizens of other countries checking in with family and friends. We are calm, but it feels like we are standing on the precipice of history. It's scary, but it's also exciting. We are seeing the common man (and woman!) standing up en masse and saying, "enough is enough." It's reminiscent of all the revolutions and uprisings that led to the freedom of democracy in our western world. As Americans, I think we too often see the images of men with scarves over their faces yelling in Arabic, riding camels through the crowd, and we think "oh, how scary...those Muslims are scary!" The reality is that we are simply seeing our own revolutionary history played over again with slightly different cultural twists. Perhaps it's scary that some of the political parties maneuvering into power are extremist muslims. Perhaps we fear losing our "allies" in the region. There are a lot of perhaps. We can't know what the future will hold, but we can cheer with the crowds and shout our own versions of freedom. That's my perspective on things...feel free to take it with a grain of salt.

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