Tuesday, January 03, 2012

When Knowledge is better than Marriage!

Here's a great news story I stumbled across in the Jordanian news service Al Bawaba. The gist is that a young woman in the Emirates found herself divorced with seven children and no decent means of support. Rather than marry any old suitor (she had a number of them) she instead struggled to hold her family together and pushed her children, especially her daughters, to become educated and independent; as she puts it "a degree is more important than the man; the degree will last them forever, but the man might not." Her daughters are now passing these lessons on to their own children.

This is how humans progress -- we acquire capital, especially human capital, and then pass it on to the next generation. This is how wealth is created, living standards improve, and civilization advances. It's neither automatic nor painless; it requires hard work and sacrifice of immediate gratifications, but it's the ultimate source of our progress.

I imagine this sort of of story disturbs the Taliban, modern evangelicals, and the like. To them, Mrs. Al Falahi "should" have subjected herself to traditional values and simply married another man...and taught her children to likewise remain ignorant and powerless. This story represents the triumph of Enlightenment values of reason and knowledge over blind subservience to pre-modern tradition and authority. But while it is really only a tiny "human interest" news item, barely even registering anywhere, it is non-events like these that really drive the advance of civilization. The world is a more hopeful place than our news stories are able to recognize.

Unforeseen Contingencies salutes Badriya Al Falahi and her family, and everyone who seeks to better themselves and the world through acquiring knowledge. Kudos to the editors of Al Bawaba for making this their "Editor's Choice."

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