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Experience #23 - Jordan and The Middle East

The last country we’ve been in the Middle East was Jordan and departing to Asia I was thinking about what was the main learning of these months in this region.

What a hard task and I wish I could decode so many notes in my “old style mobile”, inseparable in this trip: my little pocket notebook.

Jordan has its dear monarch who, at least different from the other two monarchies we’ve been to, he doesn’t have absolute power, but can still rule a lot… I feel I’ve even met him in person after having to look at his face in the pictures hanging everywhere. It ends to be practically mandatory to like his majesty Abdullah II.

After passing by the third monarchy, I’d like to start with my brief opinion regarding this government system, now that the modern civilization already has a few millenniums of registered history. First, something I’ve always asked myself and never found the answer is how the first king ever arose in the world? My hypothesis is that it happened while playing marbles (rounded stones by then) where the loser was killed and the winner consecrated. Or someone who could convince his own tribe, through brainwashing, that he was sent by the divine with the duty of commanding everyone.

In other words, the motive behind the appearance of the first royal family of all I believe to be something as ridiculous as this hypothesis. Of course that with the evolution, criteria like physical strength and intellectual capacity made part of the dispute, but it took a while. This way, the following question is why millenniums after we, the only rational beings, still allow a small group of people to be considered superior vs. the remaining billions and have numerous privileges? With all the respect, I deeply believe it’s just one more evidence of our comfort zone to accept the common sense never wanting to know why. Cowards, that’s who we are and we must accept it.

Indifferently from your opinion about karma, eternal spirit and life after death, it’s a fact that a baby who was born today in a family with no access to education and health that lives in the limits of survival, has very low chances of having a decent life. While a baby who was born in a royal family will have an exaggerated and improperly luxurious and comfortable life without any merit. It’s a divine injustice accepted by us, a doubtful future vs. an automatically glorious future… It’s not even a matter of merit, it’s kind of an official nepotism, as the son of the king, the prince, has his social rise guaranteed, independently of his capabilities proven.

This doesn’t mean we need a coup d’état or an armed conflict to deport all the kings and queens and problem solved. We just need to initiate a transition to end this. But what if everybody stopped supporting and accepting? Just like stop thinking it’s nice to read and share news about the queen’s grandchildren or going to the streets to idolize and celebrate her birthday? Just examples that could show that we are in a new momentum, the social equality that everybody says that it’s beautiful requires an action and why not starting through this? No more self-indulgence!

The inequality starts there and we are not talking about just a few monarchies. There are the Absolutes where the monarch has total power, the Constitutionals where the sovereign has a few powers and the Constitutionals where he is only a decorative figure. Among those, they are more than forty today, yes 40! But why so much injustice if we are talking about the royalty? I think it can be justified just by comparing the country minimum wage and the cost of maintaining these extraordinary entities alive? Airplanes, palaces, security and servants…

To help, as reference, an European royalty had more than 460 employees and spent R$6.5 millions just in food and beverages in 2013, according to the Guardian. – I’m mentioning this one as there is more public information. – The injustice I’m referring to could be measured.

I’m very cautious not to make any inappropriate accusation, but today we don’t hear about progresses that are in result of the royalty work. If you know anything concrete, please share.

That is one more evidence that the power corrupts. Another day I heard a phrase that said something like “to truly know someone’s self give the power in his hands and then you will know”. Makes sense. I’m not judging the royal families’ temper, not at all, but it’s absolutely incorrect to maintain this today with the shameful misery, injustice and lack of equal opportunities to everyone. Imagine how much these millions could solve. What about thinking of a situation where the majesties, from tomorrow on, will keep all they “have” and stop using public money, so that all this funding would be used the make the schools that are missing and cease hunger. It seems too utopian for our ambitious today.

Well, if I disappear after this text, it was any prince from the army who took me away… I know there is one there, as I had to listen in the news regarding it many times and the speech sounded like “what an admirable example”…

Done, point made. Monarchies in 2015 should be only in the fairytales.

Back to the learning of the region, we could also go to a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman. Firstly the image I had of a camp is not in line with all of them, as they are not necessarily canvas tents on an open field. It depends on how long ago they’ve been established and the way they developed. The Jabal el-Hussein camp, the one we visited, exists since 1948, when Israel took over a few extra pieces of land. It reminds less developed neighbourhoods of São Paulo with a lot of dirty on the streets, hanging wires and unfinished buildings, but they still are not like our slums.

As we couldn’t have any previous contact with organizations there, despite our attempts, we went to be face to face and meet people. We tried an UN office for refugees in the place with no success, a public school there and nothing, until Gabi started talking to twelve years old girls who were going back from school and we walked with them to their house. When we got there, she called her mother who invited Gabi to go in. I couldn’t go, as for men it would only be possible if the householder was at home to invite me, what didn’t happen as he was not there. It was a brief internal tour where the explanations wasn’t comprehended as they don’t speak english. Despite being a very simple house, Gabi noticed that in the room there was a big flat screen TV and the girls sleep separate from the boys. Sadly by the end something frequent happened, the mother asked for “money”. We gave only the Think Twice Brasil bracelet and went out thanking a lot!

Continuing the walking, we met other women and girls talking and playing with small chicks on the street. A girl who was around eighteen invited us into her house. She spoke a bit of english. They were in six girls and the mother, all very kindly laughing, this time I could go in as the mother was more easygoing. Cheers! In a matter of minutes, seriously, we were sitting by the living room drinking coffee and eating the chocolates they offered us. – It’s worth reinforcing that the invitation and hospitality was made to strangers walking by the street without understanding each other completely. – The house was extremely simple, but pleasant.

When we tried a conversation, the talkative one showed up with her marriage album and started to show us. As in the pictures she is not in her clothing covering the whole body in the pictures I should not look at them. I just looked once before knowing that and she laughed a bit shy. We didn’t have much clear communication but it was an amazing moment and even better as this time they didn’t ask for any money, we just exchanged emails and a big hug. Perfect to delete any generalized perception of an opportunistic behaviour from the people there. Is there a purer proof of generosity and affection?

Besides that, Jordanians are very kind people, almost everyone smoke (very annoying!) and all the buildings are in a beige tone, a bit boring. Different from the impeccable sultanate of Oman, the country environment is not really taken care in the city and the horn is more used than the car accelerator…

Leaving the Middle East, in the plane, while writing this text, a situation impacted me. With the lights off I noticed that besides Gabi a little Muslim girl was sitting with only her eyes uncovered. She was almost invisible with her black clothing in the dark with her beautiful newborn girl smiling on her lap. They were visible due to the brightening coming from the TV as they were watching a movie where Indian women with no much clothes were dancing with men. Contrasts. I felt she was very young by the way she looked, the size of her hands and the voice.

I kept myself thinking about all the women I saw dressed like that, like in restaurants with that cloth disturbing the path of the food to get to the mouth and in the intense heat of Petra where ladies were walking with even her hands covered and a tinny net covering their eyes. Imagine the heat? It was a moment of grief for me just for knowing that that is not human and how senseless it’s for us to allow it, independently from sex, age, country or religion.

In that moment in the flight I think I got paralyzed looking at her for one minute – disguising so I didn’t look maniac – with a turbulence of thoughts coming up and asking why, why, why?

Why we have to be so different, condition our social coexistence to so many rules that obligate us to honour costumes without even being allowed to comprehend them and decide for ourselves? There isn’t a religious free will. We are absolutely coerced to follow the environment where we were born.

What bothers me the most is that we cannot question what is written in the sacred books where the language gives room to so many different interpretations that, obviously, couldn’t follow the evolution, the new formats of society and the new standards of relationship.

It looks like a divine miracle is required so that people, mainly the most experienced, allow themselves to rethink and see new horizons. I don’t know how, but we need to beg them to open their minds and show that many times it makes no sense. Regulations that dictate a whole life, private us from realizing many dreams, small and big, besides encountering our purpose.

I’m not here to problematize religions and beliefs, not at all, I absolutely respect each one with his convictions. I’m just arguing the way we surrender ourselves to it and get blind. The saddest part is that in the ultraconservative families, there is no opening at all for evolution, it appears that they are passing through life to follow a book and that’s it. What about the free will? Ah, only if the rule allows it.

This critic is not about the Islam itself, even because we had wonderful experiences with lovely people in this country, but it’s about the way the religion is in our lives. I’m using examples and situations of the religion which I’ve been learning from in the past months, but we know there are cases as severe as these ones in all others. Such as the homophobia practiced by Christian religions and the resistance to recognize the usage of preservatives.

Something contradictory in all this, is that we surrendered ourselves to innovations that were not mentioned when the religions were created. Perhaps just because they provide comfort and make things easier, without caring about its consequences. It’s part of common sense, if a certain group of people says it’s good, ok, you can do it. For example, why we permit ourselves to drive cars that are bad for our health and use a natural resource that will end? Why we produce and eat food with pesticides that are harmful for our body? Why we want to smoke, if it erodes the lungs? Why we search for gaining more money and ignoring who doesn’t have any?

These habits go against the rules of any religion, like respect and love others. It’s not that everything is wrong, but we’ve got so used to do absolutely incorrect things, that to change this costumes it seems to be too much work to do.

This is so serious to the point that today there are countries where the matrimonial rape is permitted by law. What means that the husband, saved by law, can force the wife to have sex, even if she doesn’t want it. A selfish, sexist and coward ignorance.

There are many thoughts and maybe my questioner side is too incisive, but it still looks like we must change a lot of things since the beginning. We just need to go out of the self indulgence of accepting what everybody is doing as if it was better and allow us to listen to ourselves. Permit new ideas respecting others’ opinion and reminding that changes will always happen. It really hurts me to know that many people who are part of these costumes have their hands tied, as the spirit of innovation may have a serious punishment and even death. Again, for going against what somebody said thousands of years ago and that everyone must follow.

I think we need to open our hearts, be willing to remodel the rules of our living in the sake of everybody and miraculously accept that the transformation will bring another mood for our day to day. People feeling more fulfilled and aware of their human rights (not the constitutional rights blah blah) and others’, can flourish more and improve the joy of everyone around. This is a principle that I deeply believe to be a solution for the world, where we allow each one of us to dedicate ourselves to the society according to our purpose and capabilities. The way we developed the society ended up disappearing with this vital quest.

Please, if your pursue in religion is the meaning of life, if we are in constant evolution your answers are not in a thousands of years ago. Get to know yourself.

It looks too theoretic, but for the ones who believe there is a superior force in the universe, whatever it may be, it makes total sense to believe there is a harmony predicted inside us. It’s like a single religion. Our consciousness kept getting lost in time, getting polluted by the temptations and giving in for the maleficent fruits of our individual creativity. We are still spinning in the circle of having and getting away from being, I just maintain my hope that the mutation point for the goodwill has already come for many and it’s about to come for everyone.

Let’s stop, think and pray!



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