"We live in a conservative eastern society" card


I am fed up with the “We live in a conservative eastern society” card people raise whenever they stumble upon something that defies their own moral code. This red card is not just raised in small towns in the Jordan Valley for instance, but it is also used in major cities like Amman and the whole middle east regardless of the diversity of sub cultures and societies that have emerged in the past few years.

Do we really live in a conservative society?

What kind of measurements do we have? Is it just a notion that he has risen to believe in, or is it something we relate to according to the set of mainstream social values we have inherited? What about the relativity of conservatism and the spectrum of its nature where extremists at both ends are not tolerated with the same degree?

Ya sidi, let’s assume that our society conservatism is at large in line with the person’s moral who is raising this card. Don’t we, as a liberal minority, have the right to speak up our minds and work on gaining ground in the place we have always lived in and loved? It does bring up the same question of national identity I introduced in a pervious post and how legitimate is it for a state citizen to work against the basic structure of the state. Here, it goes like, how legitimate it is for a group of people to work against the core moral of the society they live in?

The dilemma between societies and individual needs comes up. For ages, it has been society’s best interests more sacred than individuals’ best interests, and thus minorities have been out casted, individuals have been sacrificed, and women have been dominated. It was not until the mid of last century where individualism started to arise, and the value of every single human being gained ground.

Unfortunately the rise of individualism conflicted with the societies best interests. For instance, if anyone is entitled to do what ever he believes is right, and knowing that people don’t usually agree on that, then who would govern the relationships between individuals living in the same society when there is a conflict of interests? One would kill another under the name of extreme individualism the same way he would do it under the name of extreme socialism.

It is worth adding that Arabic societies still tally in terms of individualism. It is picking up due to the nature of globalization and the communication revolution, but resistance against it is very huge.

The world is different today. Modern societies hardly reached a middle ground between individual rights and social rights. Countries are governing the interaction of its citizens based on laws derived from different sources. Usually it is still the majority that rules, but universal human rights law has come to exist in order to protect the rights of the under dog. Human rights organizations are working heavily to ensure the safety of the sacrificed individuals all over the world.

Humans most prominent instinct is the desire to survive and thus the right of living in safety emerged to be the most sacred human right. Speech has been one of the major excuses that been used to violate this right, and thus the freedom of expression emerged to be a very important right that is called upon all over the world.

At the level of myself as an individual, living in a so called conservative society, and a so called liberal sub society where my family and friends and acquaintances don’t adhere to the mainstream claimed moral codes, at the same time living in a modern country that have global agreement and are to hold responsibilities towards the global society. I find myself having every right to speak out myself and work towards what I see better for the people I live between and cherish and love.

So next time anyone raises the conservative card society in my face, I would just raise my middle finger to answer him.

14 thoughts on “"We live in a conservative eastern society" card

  1. Very true points. The biggest difficulty in my personal life arises with my father actually. Whenever I state an opinion that contradicts his own, or argue about something that he doesn’t’ approve of, he considers it rude. At the same time he is proud to be democratic, and have been politically active, and that he listens to others and is open minded.Our whole society is constructed on the premise that you should not question those older than you, nor their thoughts, nor their ideals, behaviors, or social constructs. That’s why we get a “red card” every time we do.I call it social censorship, which is really much worse than government censorship cause everyone around you is censoring you

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  2. I’ve only been here less than 5 years, and I’m told Amman used to be less conservative a couple of decades ago. I’m not sure what changed that, but I think based on today’s numbers it can definitely be considered conservative overall when compared to say Dubai, or New York!That is not to say views and behavior dissenting from the mainstream isn’t tolerated (after all, we have night clubs, liquor stores, massage parlors, and even prostitutes). So there is a level of tolerance, but within limits. The limits are that you don’t exercise your “freedoms” to the point that you suppress the freedom of the mainstream to live their traditional male-dominated sheltered conservative life.As they don’t force their conservatism on you (Saudi religion police style), you shouldn’t force your liberalism on them.

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  3. The funny thing is that your call is coming through a screen and a keyboard, using english, and talking to a small audience.. The fact that your main interests revolve around individualism and complete personal freedom shows how self centered you are. I think there are many issue on the local level more important than someone being able to walk naked or curse god in the street. I think you should look at what are the root causes of our failures,and I think we should focus on the virus rather than the symptoms. You should be able to find you a real cause and work for it, focus your energy on something that will bring the country forward, rather than confronting the society. And finally, your indurstanding of the world affairs is limited at best, so don’t just throw the words golbalization and such without really knowing the dynamics of the world, maybe this way you can fool a couple of retards, but using words without actually knowing what they mean make the argument sound stupid. We are not a globalized country, we don’t have freedoms, we live in a dictatorship, our democracy is a comedy show, our educational system is one of the worst in the world..Lets leave it here, and listen, over-simplifying and trivializing issues shows lack of understanding on your behalf, the world is more complex than your post. And, oh, we, do , live, in , a, VERY, conservative, society..And your middle finger should be put to a better use than raising it in the face of people who tell you the truth, or simply disagree with you.

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  4. zait o za3tar, people usually tend to be protective about familiar things. Unfortunatly we have a big social censorship in questioning everything! That is bad, but new generation won’t keep it this way, would we?🙂hani obaid, i agree, amman is less conservative than it has been 5 years ago, I would say even 2 years ago it was more conservative. I agree as well that we shan’t supress the freedom of the mainstream with their traditional values unless they are harmful and againt the law. Mohannad, I don’t think it is a self centered issue when I call for more individual freedom to everyone. I certainly won’t benefit alone.Beside, it is not something luxurious that I am calling for. Women form half of our society and everyone is affected by social constraints that is causing some very awkward problems. I don’t deny that we do have other severe problems, but we can’t priorities issues and skip problems till we solve others that we think are more important. Societies don’t work this we. Each work from his corner to build the way he can. We are not a globalized country? Really? So what about all those food, clothes, malls franchise opening everywhere? What about real estate companies coming from the gulf, what about our communication companies? What about IT sector? What about hotels? What about TV shows? Don’t fool yourself. We are globalized in a lot of aspects.As for democracy, no man, let me differ. We are not in a dictatorship. We have a form of democracy. Let us not look at the empty half of the glass and try to be positive and build for the future of this country, for pessimistism is another bad inherited cultural attribute!

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  5. You said:”We are not a globalized country? Really? So what about all those food, clothes, malls franchise opening everywhere? What about real estate companies coming from the gulf, what about our communication companies? What about IT sector? What about hotels? What about TV shows? Don’t fool yourself. We are globalized in a lot of aspects.As for democracy, no man, let me differ. We are not in a dictatorship.We have a form of…”This is the funniest shit ever!If you actually believe this, then case closed and there is no gain in even discussing any real issues with you. Your view of reality is so distorted that you don’t even see.Globalization is about malls and food, HAHAHAHAHAHA. Come on man!And by the way I wasn’t talking about women issues, I was talking in general..And did you ask yourself why your king didn’t change the honor crimes law? Ha?I rest my case.Salam.

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  6. @ Mohannad“The funny thing is that your call is coming through a screen and a keyboard, using english, and talking to a small audience..”I think that the blog medium is the best way to deliver a discussion about such a topic. I mean, I can picture you right now going up and interrupting/swearing at the Observer if they were saying the above face-to-face. “The fact that your main interests revolve around individualism and complete personal freedom shows how self centered you are.”Give me one action that you did because you wanted to benifit the world, and not to satisfy your inner need for approval. It’s all about your narcism.“I think there are many issue on the local level more important than someone being able to walk naked or curse god in the street”I am a liberal, and I would not support either suggestion you made above. I agree with you, there are more pressing issues, like women’s rights, child labor, democracy, etc…“I think you should look at what are the root causes of our failures,and I think we should focus on the virus rather than the symptoms.”I totally agree, but we as a lesson I learned, you cannot ignore the symptoms to treat the source. You have to work on both long term AND short term. “You should be able to find you a real cause and work for it, focus your energy on something that will bring the country forward, rather than confronting the society.”Give me one significant social change that was not brought on by asking the difficult questions and confronting society’s fears. I’ll give you 2 extreme examples: the resolution of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and the Women’s Rights movement in Canada that gave women the right to vote. Women did not just go and beg the men to give them their rights, they went out, protested, and confronted their society to bring the social change. You might see this as irrelevant and extreme, but I meant it to be so just to make my point as clear as possible. “And finally, your indurstanding of the world affairs is limited at best, so don’t just throw the words golbalization and such without really knowing the dynamics of the world, maybe this way you can fool a couple of retards,”RESPECT“but using words without actually knowing what they mean make the argument sound stupid. We are not a globalized country, we don’t have freedoms, we live in a dictatorship, our democracy is a comedy show, our educational system is one of the worst in the world..”Observer has already addressed this. I’m having doubts that you actually understand what the concept of Globalization implies. “Lets leave it here, and listen, over-simplifying and trivializing issues shows lack of understanding on your behalf, the world is more complex than your post.”You hit the nail on the head, this is a blog post, not a 500 page book. Please pay attention to the medium. “And, oh, we, do , live, in , a, VERY, conservative, society..”Again, addressed by the Observer. “And your middle finger should be put to a better use than raising it in the face of people who tell you the truth, or simply disagree with you.”I think you should re-read your comment and reconsider the last bit as advice to yourself, rather than to the Observer.

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  7. @ majd:” can picture you right now going up and interrupting/swearing at the Observer if they were saying the above face-to-face. “How did you know? Have you ever been in a discussion with me? Why did you judge me without actually knowing anything about me?“Give me one action that you did because you wanted to benifit the world, and not to satisfy your inner need for approval. It’s all about your narcism.”again, you don’t know me. And I am not a narcissist, maybe you should learn how to adress the other party without insulting them. And I don’t have to throw in my C.V everytime I get into a discussion with a screen name.“I am a liberal”WOW, COOL, can you sign my forehead? “I totally agree, but we as a lesson I learned, you cannot ignore the symptoms to treat the source. You have to work on both long term AND short term. “well said, but your life experince is nothing when compared to the overall experiences of the society, as such we can’t take your word for it. Gay rights, women rights, and every other important issue didn’t come without sacrifice and real organizing, but all these things came after the basic human rights were granted.“give me one significant social change that was not brought on by asking the difficult questions and confronting society’s fears.”Oh, through a blog? Maybe if we are talking about the daily kos or the huffington post, but not “thearabobserver”. You see, you can’t challenge the status quo just by commenting and writing posts.“I’m having doubts that you actually understand what the concept of Globalization implies. “Enlighten me? I have read milton friedman books, naomi klein, thomas friedman, and many others. Food and malls are not globalization, they are nothing but a block in the facade.And regarding us being a globalized country, I think since the creation of jordan we were held hostage by other powers in the world, we have always been with where the greatest power resided. We are not independent, we are completely dependent on foreign aid.“I think you should re-read your comment and reconsider the last bit as advice to yourself, rather than to the Observer.”I think you should read the observer’s post and the insult that he threw in anyone who simply states the facts. His middle finger, as I said, can be put to better use😉Do you actually think that our society is not conservative? I think that describing our society as being conservative is actually an underestimation-we are extremely conservative. Oh, and regarding our so called democracy and freedom..HAHAHAHA

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  8. “WOW, COOL, can you sign my forehead? “I’d love to!“well said, but your life experince is nothing when compared to the overall experiences of the society, as such we can’t take your word for it. Gay rights, women rights, and every other important issue didn’t come without sacrifice and real organizing, but all these things came after the basic human rights were granted.”I think that my life experiences are directly a function of the overall experiences of society. Regardless, don’t you agree that you have to work with both the symptoms and the source?“Oh, through a blog? Maybe if we are talking about the daily kos or the huffington post, but not “thearabobserver”. You see, you can’t challenge the status quo just by commenting and writing posts.”I have to disagree. The use of the internet as a tool to assist in social change and democracy is important. Social change happens slowly, and the cool thing about the internet, is that you can reach a HUGE variety of audience relatively easily. Take digg (hint hint Observer) and youtube for example. I met people online who have changed my perspective on life completely, through discussions like this! Mind you, I’m a (relatively) younger guy so I’m still more flexible than people older than me…“Enlighten me? I have read milton friedman books, naomi klein, thomas friedman, and many others. Food and malls are not globalization, they are nothing but a block in the facade.And regarding us being a globalized country, I think since the creation of jordan we were held hostage by other powers in the world, we have always been with where the greatest power resided. We are not independent, we are completely dependent on foreign aid.”OMG Naomi Klein = god!I’m sorry in advance if I offend anyone, but I think that the state of Jordan (mostly the government, but also the concept, but that is an issue of the past and it would be a waste of effort to change it now – AND it’s not the topic of the discussion). “I think you should read the observer’s post and the insult that he threw in anyone who simply states the facts. His middle finger, as I said, can be put to better use ;)”COME ON!“Do you actually think that our society is not conservative? I think that describing our society as being conservative is actually an underestimation-we are extremely conservative. “I did not say that Jordanian society is liberal, but if you put it on the spectrum of most liberal (Belgium, say) to most conservative (KSA, say) Jordan would be far from KSA. “Oh, and regarding our so called democracy and freedom..HAHAHAHA” again: geez man…Cheers!

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  9. hmmm, for some reason the first part of my comment got lost :Shere’s what it was:I think if I met you, I’d really like you – I enjoy having discussions with people who seem to know what they’re talking about. If you’re ever in Canada/Ontario, let me know!“How did you know? Have you ever been in a discussion with me? Why did you judge me without actually knowing anything about me?”It’s this style of discussion that lead me to make that judgement. Although, I agree with you, and I apologize for making that judgment without enough evidence. “again, you don’t know me. And I am not a narcissist, maybe you should learn how to adress the other party without insulting them. And I don’t have to throw in my C.V everytime I get into a discussion with a screen name.”May I recommend “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins?

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  10. Mohannad, you are missing the whole point of this post which is that any given big city at this era of time has multiple sub societies that have sub cultures, sub values and sub moral codes. Living in Amman, my own sub society is quiet liberal. It is where I have a space of movement and it is from were I come out to address other people at the fence of my sub society in order not only to defend my threatened acquired freedoms but also to spread it to others. My objection of using the red card of living in a conservative society, is that NO I don’t live in a conservative one, and there are a lot of me who live the same and do reside in Jordan.Now as for globalization, you are being childish here trying to take foods and malls as my only presented evidence for globalization in Jordan. I provided you a list of several other fields where you can see it in Jordan. Would you please give us your own definition of globalization?

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  11. “May I recommend “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins?”I am over my head with stuff in my study, but I try as much as I can to make room for on-the-side reading, and will make sure to take a look at your recommendation.And thanks for taking the time to reply, I enjoy clever discussions.🙂Observer,You see, I don’t disagree with you on mnay issues, and I am a big supporter of having people say anything freely and without the fear of social or governmental censorship. BUT, I disagree with your approach, you can’t make the changes you strive for by confronting the society, a society which through the years resisted any change. I am a big fan of education as a way to changing societies, but this is a generational thing. Once you shove an idea-like the one you tried to tackle in your previous posts- you put the other party on the offensive and you take the defensive position, such issue like honor killing can be tackled by playing on the relegious cord since we are a relatively relegious society. In a muslim majoriy society, you can educate people that such killing are agains the teachings of islam, this way you treat the symptom while talking to the people in a language they can understand and relate to.As for globalization, I suggest you read milton friedman book: “Freedom and capitalizm”. Also, thomas Friedman’s “the lexus and the olive tree”, and “the world is flat”. For other perspectives on the issue, look for naomi klein’s “the shock doctrine”, and Joseph E. Stiglitz’s “making globalization work”.My definition is a synthesis of all of the above reading endeavors.

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  12. mohannad, maybe you are right about the approach. I certainly don’t want to offend people, but I also want to touch them, to move something in them and make them think, even if it does rage them. I use different means in different posts, and my target are not actually those with stone carved brains, but those who are in silence and need a little push or a given space to let it out. Maybe that explains part of the popularity of this blog. I speak out the minds of many people who are still grounded with the notion of our conservative society and the set of mainstream inherited moral values. I will skip the globalization discussion for now. It is quite impossible to derive your perception of it from several books especially that I haven’t read any of them. But I will definatly check them out.

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