Friday, March 20, 2015

Op-Ed from Yemen

Yemen is in chaos.  Civil war and an Al Qaeda insurgency, a coup by the Shiite Houthis, and now bombings of two Shiite mosques that murdered at least 46 people.  So what is on the mind of Yemen Observer op-ed writer Hasna’ Abdulmaji? Follow your passion!  "To be of service to others, we must give life to our positive inclinations. And the only way to obtain true life is to get back in touch with our innermost self and take risks that resonate with that part of us. When we are not true to ourselves, and when we are far removed from our inner self then most likely we are not growing."

What???!!! Yemen is coming apart with religious and political violence, and the most important thing this op-ed writer can think of is to tell readers to "get in touch with their innermost selves?"  Does this make any sense at all?

Well, yes.  Frankly, I'm not sure there's any more important or appropriate message in the midst of such a mess.  After all, how do you remain sane in the midst of the collapse of your society? If you are not true to something, if you aren't singlemindedly dedicated to some set of principles, you'll have no chance of retaining your equanimity.  You'll be confused and lost and helpless, and others will be in charge of you and your soul.  You'll be swept away by events around you.  Sure, you might be swept away anyway, but at least it will be as someone in control of himself or herself.

The only people who are rock solid are those grounded in principles,  But too often, the set of principles chosen is dedication to one theology or other, something supposedly greater than one's self.  Yeah, great, that's what's getting us things like churches and mosques bombed, women burned to death for offenses against "holy" books, and similar insanity.  Far better to be true to ourselves.  This will be increasingly important; one can slide along just following the current in normal times and do OK.  But the world is going to become much more tumultuous before it gets better.  If you hope to keep your head about you when everyone else is losing theirs, remember that this is the only way to do it.  Be true to the best within yourself.  And to do that, you'd better learn what that best self is.

A few more excerpts from Abdulmaji:

"In stagnation, we can hardly be of benefit to ourselves, never mind others besides. True growth is not merely learning by taking in knowledge, reading what experts have said, understanding the ways of great men. This is helpful only if it then directs us to ponder over our own experiences, to enhance what needs to be enhanced and to make changes so that we can be express our true self. Too often it is we who stand in the way of reaching our maximum potential. We cannot allow others to influence our perspective and to stand in our way either physically or with limiting ideas."

I agree.  I wish I'd said this.  Well, I'm saying it now!

I suppose Abdulmaji could have laid out a brilliantly crafted solution to Yemen's crisis.  None of the warring parties would have paid any attention and nothing would come of it.  Instead he (she?) wrote something that will really have the effect of making the world better.  Abdulmaji only has to remind one person of these truths to have been successful.  If you are reading this, and act on it, Abdulmaji has been successful at least twice.

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