October 5, 2006

Don't Sweat It

A guy named Stephen Browne spent a year teaching English in Saudi Arabia. He didn't enjoy the experience. Via Mean Mr. Mustard, he lists 12 things he learned about Saudis:

4) Not only can they not build the infrastructure of a modern society, they can’t maintain it either.

The very concept of "maintenance" is foreign to them. This is what drives the foreign instructors in the Gulf absolutely mad. The per capita richest countries in the world resemble Eastern Europe or Latin America in the tackiness and run-down appearance of the buildings and streets. An electronics technician new to the Kingdom once told me how his first job was to inspect a junction box in the desert. He had to pry it open with a crowbar as it had evidently not been opened since it had been installed several years earlier.

This is expressed in the inshallah philosophy, “If God wills it.” A Palestinian friend of mine explained to me that even the weather forecaster will qualify his prediction, “It will rain tomorrow. Inshallah.” Or, “I will meet you tomorrow, inshallah.” (But God understands that I am a very unreliable person.)

I remember giving a pep talk to my students before a crucial exam, “You are all going to pass the exam, right?” “Inshallah teacher.” “No, no!” I shouted, “No inshallah. Study!”

While we might not be terribly impressed by how they function in the modern world, the Arab Bedouin became superbly adapted to surviving as a nomad in the desert. "Don't sweat the small stuff" is a governing principle where temperatures are extreme and wells are far between.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

No comments: