Monday, February 19, 2007

Running Behind

I wrote Saturday morning about an LSU professor because I was traveling to Baton Rouge, Louisiana that day. I wasn’t going for Mardi Gras, but I did see some Mardi Gras partiers.

I was running in an indoor track meet on the LSU campus Sunday. Things went well for me and as an added bonus my teammate Bill Collins shattered the World Record in the 55 meters for men over 55 years old. He was in the lane next to me. I finished ½ second behind so I guess I had the best seat in the house for the new World Record. I was pretty close to the record myself, but it wouldn’t have mattered since the record wasn’t merely broken, but instead re-established with complete dominance.

My lasting thought from the trip out to Louisiana is about time, the subject with which Einstein occupied his brain. I like things to run on time. If time is relative to our speed in space it’s OK with me, but I am far more concerned with time running to suit me here on earth under practical conditions. I found myself dwelling on how well we Americans manage time. If you have traveled you understand that this mindset is not a worldwide attribute. Many like to debate if timeliness is in fact an attribute. I believe it is. I think it is an attribute because it is a marker of our ability to respect others. Is there anything more annoying than standing in a line? Yes there is. It is standing in a line where someone is creating difficulty for all those in the line behind them by being poorly prepared. You know the type? I’m talking about the lady that waits to do simple things like getting the checkbook out of her purse until all items are priced? “Your total is $43.96.” OK, let’s see, I know my checkbook is somewhere underneath these vast piles of stuff in my purse. I’ll start looking now while everyone waits in line behind me. I couldn’t actually get it out and start writing the check until I knew the total. Grrrrr.

On a brighter note, what I kept noticing this weekend is how everything happened right on schedule. I witnessed a track meet with legions of races and athletes running exactly on time with remarkable precision. Check

I saw airlines loading folks of all ages, intelligence and physical capability into a small metal flying tube and leaving the airport on time. Check

I saw luggage reaching the conveyor system at the same time as the travelers. Check

Car rental brought to the pick up door as I exited the airport. Check

All of it just like I like it. I don’t care about Einstein’s relativity even if I should. I like it when the world runs on time. When the play starts at 7 pm as advertised instead of 8:23 as it does in Mexico, I like it.

We spend a lot of our time complaining, don’t we? Well, I found something worth applauding this weekend. It could be caused by the wheels of commerce. It could be the American sense of free enterprise. It could be more reasons than I can uncover, but I prefer to think of it as respectfulness. Respect for another’s time and life.

I love this idea we have in our country. If you are late you get left behind. We learn it as children. Maybe it’s cruel, and maybe it is not. After all, we as a culture have safety nets for those that are impaired instead of merely lazy. Are you listening in the Arab world? As you dawdle in your oil money and your insistence that ½ of your citizens live behind veils and in uneducated ignorance, and as you refuse modernity because you bow down to the hate preaching clerics so you can stay in power, are you listening? It is very easy to get left behind Mr. Arab world leader. And worse yet your populations are now 60% under the age of 18. Half of the 60% are women, women sentenced to illiteracy and a life without skills while you cling to the old ways of totalitarian regimes pumping oil, intolerance promulgated by hate filled clerics, and choice that sustains the illiteracy of more than ½ of your population. The clock is ticking, and you are getting left behind.

I love the USA. We run things on time. We do it by allowing our women to be part of the labor source and part of the solution. And we grant a bonus. We also let women go to school and show their faces. We respect people. We respect their time. We respect our women and their time and their life. In this way America and other parts of the world are ‘on time’ while the Middle East and Islam fall farther and farther behind while their young populations demand more and more sustenance. This is the reason for the systemic hate that threatens the free world. It is a loss of simple dignity in a world that is quickly disappearing beyond their vision. Ask any Palestinian that endured Arafat and now suffers additionally under terrorist nation state rule. There is no dignity in throwing rocks at Israeli tanks. I make no excuse for Israel’s insistence on overreaching its boundaries, but rocks and hatred are no match for authentic scholarship, commerce and technology. The proof is in Israel’s economic power. It's trains run on time while the former Arafat’s trains were long ago sold for parts.

I love my ‘running on time’ respectful country. I really do. And, my love isn’t relative, its everyday real.


Jenn said...

I can't figure out why there are no comments here. Then again, I didn't comment the first time I read it either.

While what you write is really good in theory....I wonder. I think a lot of the violence stems from the ignorance. The ignorance allows the hate. And that huge population under the age of 18...they're being weaned and raised on what the elders know.

How can there be a revolution? In our lifetime? I doubt it.

Let me be very American for a moment and say who cares if they get left behind....if terror and fear resulting from their beliefs still affect me...and more daughter?

(I do believe that's my first argumentative comment on your blog.)

Seven said...

This is one of the great divides both in our country and in the Arab/Muslim world. By divide what I mean is that we have people and groups in the Middle East that cling tenaciously to what they believe and have been told no matter what the facts are in front of their faces.
In this case the hate preaching clerics are integral to keeping the ruling class in place, particularly in Saudi Arabia, original home of the 911 hijackers. As long as there is oil money to sustain the oppression of 1/2 the population and to resist modernity in all its forms, it will continue.
If we wean ourselves from foreign oil it will force the Arab world to decide if it wishes to join the world in modern commerce and human rights or succumb to hateful Isalm radical clerics.
The central problem in all of this, as you say, is that the young are being educated in hate by the clerics. The leadership, as in Saudi Arabia can only remain in power with approval of the Islam clerics. So they pay oil money to the clerics in order to stay in power. The victim becomes the non-ruling class caught between non-modern economies and hate educations with no out available to them short of revolution. They have been taught to hate us and continue to be taught to hate us. The solution according to most Mid East experts is to create a hybrid democracy in these countries to ease the transition into modernity and bona fide producing economies. At this point Iran's exports are a mere fraction of the much smaller populations of European countries.
The Bush Administration is well aware of this of course but have attempted to insert a full fledged democracy while doing precious little to wean ourselves from ME oil.
Nevertheless I give the current administration credit for advancing the ball and letting Saudi Arabia and Iraq know that the dance of deception with their own citizens is over.
The most pressing problem we face, in my opinion, is the total loss of dignity suffered by young Mid East populations as they see their legitimate governance and economy pale in comparison to the rest of the world. That truth is increasingly available to them by a world system of communication that even the clerics cannot control.
Restoring the dignity of the Islam faith and its people is essentially tied into democracy and modernity, all sorely missing in the Middle East.
As far as comments, it is a difficult post to comment on and in many ways it requires that a commenter be well read on Middle East issues. As difficult as it is to understand those that hate us I think it is worth our effort to try. We can overcome if we understand. We cannot overcome if we refuse to try to understand.
Yes, our children and grand-children are at risk. We owe them far more than a mindless chant that we hate our leader because he cannot solve a problem centuries in its formation. Such a mindset is equal to the mindset of the Mid Easy young man that decides to hate because he is told to do so by others around him.
I admire your courage and respect your comment. Someday I hope our children are safe. And with a larger part of my heart I pray for a day when their children are safe from us as well.

Reach said...

As I had weekend guests, I could not comment earlier.

I think the first question to address is the "Why"? With only three distinct paths to rise in power, an individual must be a male learning or paracticed in Military, regional Religion, or have been born to or served a "Royal" family. Under the condition of militant (Military), one must be ruthlessly recognized for a demonstrated brutal force.

The Religious role maintains the most in popularity, for it's vast recognition. To maintain the "Old" ways, one must shun the western worlds, as they practice freedoms which are not of the original teachings. Additionally, this opens the door for an exodus and with the low populations of different sects, by comparison, the "numbers" game plays in affect.

Do to spacing, I shall end this here.



Seven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seven said...

It sounds as if you understand the dynamics as I do. Unfortunately when Americans are force fed the liberal media agenda against this country's leadership we find those that are willing to blame it all on America without a clue as to the actual world condition. This is similar to swallowing the bait in the way that young Saudis and Pakistanis swallow the hate bait offered by the clerics.
Look at India. They have the worlds second largest population of Muslims but remain disaffected by the hate and are economically sound under a functioning democracy. The difference? The Indian Muslim has retained his dignity and even raised it a notch under democracy.
The post here is a contrarian opinion unavailable on CNN or NPR. They carry a bash Bush message on behalf of political constituencies. It is a message of hate and ignorance similar to that practiced by the Wahhibi dogmatist in Saudi Arabia. When we continually bash our leadership for partisan political reasons we miss an important point best expressed by religious philosopher David Hartman...."The strength of America has always been its ability to challenge its own truths by presenting alternative possibilities. That forces you to justify your own ideas, and that competition of ideas is what creates excellence."
Finally my friend, the internet and this space (so far) are free. Write as long an essay as you feel you need. I will read it.

Rebel Belle said...

A friend of mine, a Marine, said of the Islamic way of a man's life:

"If all I did every was smoke Turkish cigarettes, drink insanely strong coffee, watch the women do ALL the heavy work, and listen to radical teachings by nut case leaders- well,
Let's just say it doesn't surprise me there are so many terrorists. They've got ABSOLUTELY nothing else to do."
Many pass their time plotting the demise of the infidels. (not all of course)

I've not been to the Middle East, and I would not pass up a chance to go...but I have been in Asia, and in South Africa.
The Asian are very time oriented, but the South Africans are as slow as the folks in the Bahamas...but can't blame it on the rum!

When I came home, from both places, I was profoundly moved by my freedom, money, and time.
I think you explained it well by making the connection between "respect" and time.

We (in the US) have things to do, places to go, people to meet, money to make...a LIFE to live!
Sadly, so many don't.

God Bless the USA! :)

Seven said...

and.....things to invent, things to improve, things to build, charity to give countries around the world, women to cherish, respect and love.......I hear you.

Angie said...

I've refrained from commenting solely because the issue is so intricate and each time I read your post and the comments I consider a different perspective than I previously had thought of.

A friend that was stationed in the ME tells me that many of the population want democracy. They see their country's treasury squandered on a select few while the rest of the country spends a lifetime in poverty. They know the oppression in their culture is archiac. But they've never had the power to be able to do anything about it.

My thought is that charging in and setting up a full fledged democracy in a country whose population has never experienced such freedoms is dangerous at best. Change is something that best happens slowly in order to truly be effective.

Seven said...

Your friend expresses the situation as most experts understand it. The problem with setting up partial democracies is that they are as difficult (probably) as a full one but I have no expertise in the matter (obviously). Your friend is correct that revolution remains a solitary hope in many cases. What we see in Iraq is the opportunity for democracy being spoiled by ageless tensions between sects, something we have difficulty having patience with. I too am losing patience but I do give the Bush Admin. good marks for patience, courage and stubbornness in the face of the irrational. That sounds odd I know but it is a badge of honor for all that America represents to the rest of the world. If we do not lead, the ME populations will know it and understand it as weakness and they wil remain hopeless and angry. The administration of course knows this, as do Demo reps in Congress. It is not a state secret. However, US partisan politics trumps foreign policy when the presidency is in play. We too soon forget that Pres Clinton came within inches of the ultimate peace proposal between Israel and the Palestinians, giving Arafat 96% of the occupied area with Israel receiving only the right to exist. Arafat turned it down and sent in Hammas suicide bombers?? The Demos need to remind everyone that a Demo Admin virtually solved the problem except for Arafat's insanity. They should run for office on that historical positive.

Anonymous said...

lots and lots of generalizations. the Arab world, Islam, the Middle East conflict, even transportation schedules are way more complex than can be explained in one short post.

you're on a slippery slope here. i've spent some time living in that culture, and it's not quite as simple as your post makes it out to be.

Seven said...

Happy to discuss it with you but not with anonymous.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I love my country. And yes, Seven, things like this cannot be anonymous. One must differ between government, media, business and simply us, our identity. It took me a long time to get to this place. I am no yahoo, but I love every piece of dirt and every grain of sand here. Americans drive me nuts, but they are my people. Yes, I am critical of policies, but it is because I love this place and want it to be great. Either you feel it or you don't. It can't be forced.

BTW, I am taking a hiatus from CV. Please keep my link--I went into private mode as I needed to really stay away from it. But I plan on visiting my good blog buddies whom I trust, like you.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I love my country. And yes, Seven, things like this cannot be anonymous. One must differ between government, media, business and simply us, our identity. It took me a long time to get to this place. I am no yahoo, but I love every piece of dirt and every grain of sand here. Americans drive me nuts, but they are my people. Yes, I am critical of policies, but it is because I love this place and want it to be great. Either you feel it or you don't. It can't be forced.

BTW, I am taking a hiatus from CV. Please keep my link--I went into private mode as I needed to really stay away from it. But I plan on visiting my good blog buddies whom I trust, like you.

Seven said...

Sweet Enemy,
Yes I noticed you are down for a little and I understand. I make an assumption that you know I cherish your presence here. You and I have differed and agreed over issues, but the ability to agree to disagree and do it without rancor or hate and perhaps a sprinkle of mutual respect is important isn't it? Come see me on my slippery slope, please? God's peace.

Rob said...

I am sometimes in the same camp as Enemy. I get really frustrated sometimes with the idiotic things we Americans do. But, you know, all I have to do is remember that my Dad and others like him put his life on the line so I would have the opportunity to say what I feel and make the choices I've made in a free nation. It's their legacy and I hope I can live up their expectations and not turn my children away from the same opportunity and legacy provided to me. Thanks for the nudge, you two.

Seven said...

It's great to hear from you. I got to meet up with my HE teammates in Baton Rouge last weekend and we had a good time. Somehow in the course of talking about our countries efficiencies that I noticed on the trip I slipped into an ME discussion, contrary to my own policy here......
It's a subject I am well read on and have discussed with many from the region, but I also know it is a personal interest of mine and not necessarily an interest of my readers/friends.
BTW, I think I am going to skip Boston Indoors. Are you going?

Rob said...

I'm not ready.
Been working on the book, still a little dazed from recent events, and haven't gotten motivated to get out and train. I want to do some outdoor meets this summer, so I have to get moving. Thanks for asking.