Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Culture of Contempt

Replies and Responses to TEDxBeirut “Limitation to inspiration” slogan

Three weeks ago, I sent a link to ten speakers at TEDxBeirut, asking for their feedback https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/mostly-a-hoax-from-limitation-to-inspiration-slogan-of-tedxbeirut/.  The first week I received a single reply.  Currently, I have got three more responses.

As promised, I’ll publish the reactions. If you read also the link in the note, you might realize that the late responses were mostly in reaction to the second reactive post “Culture of Contempt...” https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/culture-of-contempt-misplaced-comprehension-of-personal-failure/

(note: I slightly edited responses to fit my style in writing, words in parentheses are mine)

The first to respond promptly was speaker at TEDxBeirut, Ali Jaber. He replied by email: “I very much enjoyed your critical piece. Such critical thinking is required in our Arab World, so we can move ahead. Two thoughts I would like to share with you.

1.  The most oppressive of limitations for the Lebanese expatriates is to realize (achieve) what they aspire to (becoming) abroad, and not in their own country.

2.  Collaboration, listening and turning to others for support, — whether they know you or not — is very important in the creative and liberal process. Creating a collaborative environment around the activities that you endeavor in the land of big egos, increased individualism and egotistical attitudes, is the road less traveled.”

I replied that mankind intelligence evolved because they managed to comprehend the great advantages in trading goods, expertise, and culture…Most of ancient wars were fundamentally meant to “connect by force”, to break barriers: The looting part was merely a catalyst…

Hala Fadel responded with a message on Facebook: “Adonis, thank you for your email via facebook. My email address is halarfadel@gmail.com for future communication. And yes, I feel that I totally fit the slogan: If you listen to my talk, the main point of my story is that I realized we need the right environment to create entrepreneurs. So the limitation is that there was no such environment in the Arab region and that many institutions including the one I started, the MIT Arab Business plan competition, contributed to creating the right environment and now inspires thousands of Arabs to create companies in their region.

I think most of what you picked about me is from my bio, which on purpose does not deliver the message of the TED talk. I feel, from being in contact with many entrepreneurs in this region, every day we have helped them go beyond their limitations and go beyond their aspirations. One of them actually is an Egyptian handicapped person who started a call center in Egypt for handicapped people and for profit.

So yes, you can achieve success whatever challenge you face in life, provided that you are “put in the right environment and you get the viral energy“, which was the message of my talk. I am available to discuss this further if you want, but try to get positive energy from somewhere before, and if you don’t no problem, I have plenty of that and it is contagious! Hala”

My reply to Hala: “you irradiated positive energy: that is why we flock at TEDx events. Journalist Samir Attalah published an article in Al Nahar describing how a blind US citizen of Lebanese origin became a judge…thanks to the proper environment…Read again the article and you might discover that I was not stealing any of your energy…Good work Hala…”

Najat Rizk sent this message on Facebook: “Hi Adonis, please try sending it again: My inbox was full and was out of the country in Benghazi completely disconnected. My email is najat.r@firehorse.me. Thx. I just read your article. I would like to add one comment.  People in modern age are divided in two categories: digital native and digital immigrants. So between generation X and generation Y there’s a big difference.

In Lebanon, the emphasis on the difference between the two is huge. it’s not an excuse to lack of respect but just food for thoughts.”

My reply to Najat: “Thanks for the reply. My article is in my blog adonis49.wordpress.com.  Can you develop further on the two categories of digital people? It might be a good topic for an essay…send reply to adonisbouh@gmail.com”

I am under the impression that war zones attract Najat like magnets. Najat is set for dispaching a more developed answer, and I will glad to re-edit this post, or better, write a special post on this “digital categories”.

Ziad Abi Chaker responded by email: “Actually, your first article inspired a long article/response on my part..but it is still under works. I hope you are not in hurry, coz I like to take my time in such issues and “ferment” them in my mind before I engage in a discussion.  I loved the way you challenged me … but I have recently gotten romantically engaged with someone, so I beg for your understanding that she has priority … Cheers my man…”

I replied that I understand his priority: Pinpoint your strongest passions and go all the way.

I am under the impression that falling in love erase promises of lesser urgency, for long duration.

Note 1: I realized that I should check my messages on Facebook more frequently: My apology for late replies. This habit will change.

Note 2:  If you read this link, you might find out the reasons of the late feedback https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/culture-of-contempt-misplaced-comprehension-of-personal-failure/

Culture of Contempt: Misplaced comprehension of Personal Failure

A week ago, I sent a link https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/mostly-a-hoax-from-limitation-to-inspiration-slogan-of-tedxbeirut/to ten speakers at TEDxBeirut, asking for their feedback.  I received a single reply.  Two of the speakers’ email, as noted in the biography booklet, were not functional. I reminded TEDx electronic address on these facts, and I have yet to receive an answer.

Was I expecting such result?  The first realization was that most of the speakers’ enterprises were Lebanon-based, and consequently, behaved within the realm of culture of contempt prevalent in our societies.

For example, when I taught at the Lebanese American University, I sent administrators, Chairpersons of departments, and “professors” many emails.  Fact is: I didn’t receive a single reply over 4 years. Never received “Thank you for letter”, “read your mail”…Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I got into thinking: “Is this lack of civility a consequence of our society culture of contempt? Or this contempt is a tradition acquired from the “classes of authority” that indulged in humiliating communities, or is it basically an “elite club” ethics of ignoring non-members…?

Speaker at TEDxBeirut, Ali Jaber, answered my request and replied: “I very much enjoyed your critical piece. Such critical thinking is required in our Arab World, so we can move ahead. Two thoughts I would like to share with you.

1.  The most oppressive of limitations for the Lebanese expatriates is to realize (achieve) what they aspire to (becoming) abroad, and not in their own country.
2.  Collaboration, listening and turning to others for support, — whether they know you or not — is very important in the creative and liberal process. Creating a collaborative environment around the activities that you endeavor in the land of big egos, increased individualism and egotistical attitudes, is the road less traveled.”

(I have discussed at length the second thought in many articles.  For example, mankind intelligence evolved because they managed to realize the great advantages in trading goods, expertise, and culture…)

People in the Arab World expect to be ultimately recognized by the restricted clan, in the general modern meaning of restricted community, as a member who can be of real support.  If by the age of 40, an individual fails to be perceived as a “useful” member of the clan; for example, the members stop paying him regular visits and asking for his input and opinions, then he thinks that he is a failure.

This misplaced comprehension of personal failure blocks any further attempts to continuing education, to trying harder, to looking at failure from a different perspective…He has reached the psychological dead-end for trying to changing and transforming his life and his “destiny”.

This urge to be recognized as an “Important” person, who can be relied upon to come to the rescue (of the clan members), is the direct link to our view of the meaning of personal failure:”Officials”, public servants, or private employee who are unable to dissociate the “good positions” with personal failure when they are fired or transferred to a job that is viewed by the community as a downgrade in importance.  The job has been personalized: I am the position and I refuse to go but higher in responsibilities and recognition, as a very important person in the community…

For example, when I taught at the Lebanese American University, I sent administrators, Chairpersons of departments, and “professors” many emails.  Fact is: I didn’t receive a single reply over 4 years. Never received “Thank you for letter”, “read your mail”…Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I got into thinking: “Is this lack of civility a consequence of our society culture of contempt? Or this contempt is a tradition acquired from the “classes of authority” that indulged in humiliating communities, or is it basically an “elite club” ethics of ignoring non-members…?

At this university, it was a Russian Poutine/Medvedev style of chair swapping among the tenure-track “professors.  My course of Human Factors in engineering was very popular. One semester 60 students registered; it is not a math class, and there are plenty of reading, writing, reflecting on many issues…I asked for the class to be divided into two sections. My request was declined.  In reaction, almost all engineering departments decided to drop the course as optional.

No wonder that our universities are chaperoned by foreign powers:  How to disperse this climate of stagnation, which is poisoning attempts for healthy development and improvement in academic affairs. Part-timers were disposed of so that tenure-track teachers fill in course, which they were never expose to and not proficient in.

The irony is that US appointed Presidents of Lebanese universities can remain in their posts as long as they are serving according to dicta, and repressing opposition opinions and free speech zeal among the students.  And you can understand why our region enjoys natural dictatorial regimes.

For example, was it the custom of the club of full-teachers or tenure-track “professors” of ignoring part-time teachers and professors?  Why is it that, in general, foreign professors answer your request and reply to your email, even if they are originally from your home country, and your countrymen refrain from basic civilities at home?  The irony is: As a foreign teacher stays in Lebanon for a couple of years, the culture of contempt sets in, and he stops replying to mails…

This is normal behavior.  The difference in social behavior among developed and non-developed communities is the availability of sustainable institutions, which can be transformed and be changed, by taking seriously the input of the communities…a culture of respecting individual opinions and intelligence, regardless of position, clan, genders, or religious affiliation…

Note 1: My four-year stint of part-time teaching courses related to Human Factors in engineering was challenging.  It was an opportunity to publishing over 50 articles in my field, and also describing my various teaching methods to adapt to university student tendencies in Lebanon. You may go to my two categories “Human Factors” and “Educational methods”.

Note 2: A speaker at TEDxBeirut, Michael Kouly, was specifically on the perception of personal failure as jobs are transformed. He said: “Never take as personal failure changes in positions or job transfer…Current responsibilities are basically temporary roles and they are volatile.  We are NOT our role.  Conflict is the norm and we need the heat to cook a conflict into resolution. Thus, your main job is to staying on stage and confront conflicts.  Learn to identify and understand authority, the psychology and system of authority: How to dance with elephants, learn the many manifestation of dynamics in role-playing. The default value of 5 in the middle of the scale of ten is: Respect yourself and respect authority.  Going overboard on the two kinds of respect defines your status in the hierarchy.

Be flexible and negotiate with authority. Nelson Mandela was scared shit of the warden on his first day in prison but he took a chance on saying “I am a lawyer, don’t forget it…” Nelson went on “I wished the warden was not looking at my shaking knees…”

Note 3: I received today a short “thank you” reply from Yorgui, but no feedback.


adonis49

adonis49

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