Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Life 

I don't want to diminish the events of this week, but I would like to speak a little to my life in Jordan and what I perceive as the overall environment in which I live aside from the recent bombings. When I left to live in Jordan, many of my friends and family thought I was crazy. By the time I left for Jordan, I had heard so many stories and been warned so many times I too started to wonder if I was crazy. And understandably, the events of this week have only heightened these sentiments of my loved ones.

But when I moved over here, I started to realize the extent to which the U.S. administration propaganda of fear has penetrated our society at all levels--including the educated, liberal class that usually remains less duped. Once again, I do not want to downgrade the seriousness of these bombings around the world, but before judging a whole section of the world full of, for the most part, wonderful people with the same wants and needs as the rest of us, please remember the extent to which our Government has irrationally blinded us with fear on many issues to keep themselves in power.

Back to my personal experience, in the last two years I have lived in Washington, D.C. and Amman. I can tell you that without a doubt I feel safer on a daily basis in Amman then I ever did in D.C.

I couldn't find any hard crime data on Amman but I can tell you that they do not have problems with muggings, rapes, robberies or murders. I can walk alone as a woman at night and not fear for my safety. I take taxis everywhere and the men treat me with respect.

In Washington, D.C., I was scared to walk home alone at night. A waiter was shot in the head and killed in my upscale neighborhood of Dupont when he didn't hand over his wallet to a band of armed robbers. A year before I moved there an airplane was driven into the Pentagon building. I worried on a regular basis about my metro ride to Union Station at rush hour. I saw intense poverty and racism. I see this same scenerio all over the world. Over the last few years there have been bombings in India, Indonesia, Turkey, Spain and London to name a few. I wonder if my friend Kathryn who is studying in London feels the same pressures to come home?

I'm still trying to figure out why my situation is so inherently more dangerous than hers? No, that's not true. I understand there are differences between London and Jordan. Yes, I now live in a rough neighborhood and it is admittedly a horrible time to be an American in the Middle East. But things should be put into perspective (a perspective that many cannot comprehend until they see it for themselves--mom, dad, how have your attitudes changed about my life after your visit here? I hope you will add some of your honest thoughts).

I have a nice life here with good friends who are much more educated on history, religion and politics than 99.9% of Americans. They are almost all Sunni Muslims and speak fervently of their religion as one that teaches only peace. Most also admit that their leaders must do much more to expel the myths blanketing the globe and covering all of them with a stigma that is difficult to shake off. Mostly, they feel more and more isolated as we continue to generalize about an entire generation of people who live in a region that has had to endure thousands of years of conflict but managed to persevere. Of course, I'm not trying to defend all Arab countries or the decisions of their leaders. Moreover, I have difficulties with the oppression of women justified through popular Islamic law. I am only asking that we not blanket a whole region as one of the same--or label the majority their citizens as terrorists. Check out some of the tourism sites on Jordan, and you'll see that it's considered relatively safe and beautiful. And Petra is a magical place you won't want to miss.


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