We have been watching all the impacts (250 from the west bank) and a few impacts (by the Israeli air force, but when we look outside the things the media wants you to notice and the side that they want to give to you for emotional impact. We see that there is a side that we are not made aware off, or being made aware of a little as possible. In light of all we see this is a much larger issue than you think. If you are to go beyond the sides you need to go, if you want to grow in any way, you need to reach out and start looking at things that are not usually seen.
It is a form of ‘off the grid’ education. Now, this can be done with almost every subject. There are millions of eager students when it is about biology (reproduction and fornication), and there are plenty of people when it comes to science experiments that are cool, and actually give additional respect to the creator of the golf ball. In this first example let’s look at SmarterEveryDay (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT0wx27J9xs), I will not tell you too much, because what you see is pretty amazing and in this episode he gets assistance from Mark Rober, an engineer, who is as daft as a door nail (in a good way), which is probably why he ended up being the perfect fit for NASA. And as the video shows that manpower did not do the trick, they decided to let Mark make them a rocket powered golf club (for real), it is like watching roadrunner come to life and whilst there was no obvious Wile. E. Coyote swinging the club, the results are there to be seen. We see the engineer (Overconfidentii vulgaris) take a swing at records and watch the movie to see how they go at that in test 3, it will stay with you for a long time. Long before the end of the movie, I ended up having massive respect for the golf ball and the person who invented it. The YouTube video is playful and still extremely informative and educational in an area where I had a little knowledge.
Yet is it not about Mark Rober or SmarterEveryDay (even though you should check them out). It is about learning and in this specific case learning more about culture. I have been learning more about Islam and Saudi Arabia, mostly because the large 5G opportunities will be there over the next few years and I never shy away from a challenge. Yet, as a Christian in a Muslim nation you have little options and more important, there is every risk of a person unintentional insulting the wrong person, it is a danger not unlike someone from western Europe going into Japan and thinking he can present his PowerPoint at a CEO thinking that his sense of humour get him the deal. Even in Europe, I once witnessed a large deal going sour because the person slipped up and accidentally said ‘pour toi‘ instead of ‘pour vouz‘, it translates exactly the same, but mixing up the formal and informal is a dangerous step to do in any condition.
So I started to become a lot more Islam aware. This gets us to the entire issue at hand that Gulf News gave me (at https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-arabia-has-most-beautiful-ramadan-experience-1.63611502). Most people know about Ramadan, we hear it around us in Muslim areas that observe it. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. I also learned that Ramadan is a lot more strict in Saudi Arabia and if caught in public eating and or drinking during the day there are indeed harsh punishments, including flogging, imprisonment and, for foreigners, deportation. So there is your step to get a chance at great fortune and you get put on the next plane to London because you had a drink in public when the sun was up.
A lot of that was unknown to me; I have had almost no exposure to that knowledge. I was amazed how little exposure to Muslim culture I seemingly had as a Christian. From my point of view, accepting that there are Muslims around me is one thing, to remain ignorant of any of the cultural issues is just stupid. Australia is not a Muslim nation, the United Kingdom is not a Muslim nation and neither is the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Sweden and so on, does that mean we need to remain ignorant of other cultures?
So as I took in ‘Saudi Arabia has most beautiful Ramadan experience‘, I became curious as I knew that Muslims have a month of fasting, but that fasting was a ‘beautiful experience’ was a new label to see. The reality is that I am almost a real seal (I have a coat of blubber to protect me from the arctic cold). The quote “Gulf News spoke with expatriates who have experienced Ramadan in the kingdom and are now missing the infectious festive spirit in their home country” was interesting as I never saw fasting as a moment to rejoice, or as something beautiful. So as I was introduced to “The Ramadan vibe is almost non-existent in London. It’s so difficult to maintain the spiritual mindset that one usually tries to adapt during the holy month because of the busy hustle of London life. The fasting hours are long and coupled with the regular school routine, it’s also draining. There’s a rush to finish work, to finish eating, to reach night prayers and then get up again at the crack of dawn to resume work,” that did not make sense to me. You see there are close to 700,000 Muslims in London, it boils down to roughly 13.1% of the London population, as such there should be a decent Ramadan population, if we believe is freedom of religion, should that not matter? If we see that places in Burwood Australia (decent sized Muslim group) banks on the Ramadan event in their shop, it makes no sense that London is so largely absent of it. And let’s face it, should we feel threatened by such an event?
In the Netherlands the newspapers are full of extra protection of Mosques, yet almost nothing on the religious impact and reason for Ramadan, merely “extra attention and vigil is kept at the Mosques after the events in Christchurch“. Even as we see that acts are claimed by Pegida, we see little action to aid in lowering fear and tension to the Muslims visiting mosques. So as the reach of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) is now clearly in the Netherlands as well, we see an absence of cultural education to the people at large via media and newspapers. As we see the party created by Lutz Bachmann giving us: “Pegida believes that Germany is being increasingly Islamicized and defines itself in opposition to Islamic extremism.” we see too large a lack of countering anti-Muslim events. I believe that educating the people is a first. As a Catholic, I need not be anti-Muslim; we do not need to be anti-Muslim culture driven people. I find it hypocrite in the extreme of those claiming to be Christians, being nothing more than hooligans and criminals, people that often not having seen the inside of a church more than 4 times a year feeling threatened by a Muslim holding a Quran. In my personal view that speaks more about their lack of faith than the implied intention of a Muslim. I believe that fear is negated by information and education, when the ignorant are seeing that culture and cultural knowledge is a positive thing, they will learn more and see that there is no fear but the fear that grows within the part of you that does not know.
In the end it is up to you what you do, I am not telling you do read it all and follow it all, I am merely asking you to consider not to turn away when the information and knowledge is offered to you. We all accept that people like Mark Rober and the people behind SmarterEveryDay make knowledge (read: science) more fun to watch, it is at times harder to find that motivation when it is cultural or sometimes even religiously based, yet that does not make for an event that is less informative. Consider that Saudi Arabia is in a stage where $1.2 trillion is spend on construction and infrastructure, would it hurt to know more so that you have an option to make some serious cash? And it is not just Saudi Arabia (they are the biggest though), together with the UAE and Qatar they represent opportunities that are well over 600% of what the US and the UK combined are doing over the next decade. Cultural ignorance is but one, yet optionally the largest hindrance to connect to these opportunities. I am not stating that acquiring knowledge needs to be profit based; I have however seen over the decades that this motivates a lot more people, so should I avoid such an obvious selling technique? To be honest, I should not take that step, yet as anti-Muslim sentiments are flaring up on a global scale, upping the ante in all this is a valid point with the hopeful result to lower tensions (I might be up for the Nobel peace prize if I achieve the impossible here).
To get the smallest view, we (non-Muslims) will appreciate the evening meal that is enjoyed by the people during Ramadan (after sunset). The movie (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ev1OLMgrbo) gives a mere glimpse not only on the preparation of the meal; the end shows how thousands are enjoying a meal seemingly in silence together. In this case it is the Iftar in the UAE. I had hoped to add one from Riyadh, however I could not find an English version (or one with English subtitles). And consider the other side of all it, if our creativity is awakened by learning new things, what could we consider when we start looking into a direction that most people have never looked?
Education off the grid can be amazing, when you feel the internal motivation to learn more you tend to learn more easily, optionally not better, but there is a lot to be said for the enthusiasm factor when acquiring knowledge, you merely need to connect to the best information source you can.