Friday, October 30, 2009
A Vice In Disguise
There is a huge contrast between Egyptians and Saudis that struck me with much irony just as I was about to depart Riyadh airport. It is no secret that the Saudi Arabian notion of virtue is one where free will hardly exists, that is to say, you should be good because your choices are limited. It is a kind of enforced virtue like that of a child who is well behaved only because he is chained and gagged. If we are to call things by their true names, it is just a hypocritical appearance of virtue which is in fact not virtue at all. The repercussions of this veiled vice are numerous, one of many being that the absence of choice leaves one unable to choose when choices appear and the time comes to make a decision. That is why Saudis when given a choice, their desire to experience something of their own choosing leads them only to the things they were never allowed to choose. It is an overwhelming desire for the forbidden fruit, which is not just the vice they were forced to stay away from, but in this case the power to choose. The desire for this kind of freedom to choose is so much more powerful than their conditioning.
It strikes me as almost futile to point out the ills of the Saudi system, for it would take too many words to state what is obvious to the average thinker and yet despite the simplicity can end up meaning to those who cannot see.
There exist within Egypt such poor thinking individuals who are mostly working class people who have lived in the gulf for some time. Escaping an unjust, tyrannical and poor Egypt, they travelled to the gulf in order to make a living. Many in desperation have adapted to the gulf manner of seeing virtue, as something that must be enforced. They have managed to acquire a foolish lesson that even the Saudi residents have had too much good sense not to learn and not to preach. Saudi residents are not too keen on spreading their way of life to other countries. When in foreign countries they embrace the freedom these countries allow to the extent of abuse.
In their blinded conditioning, Egyptians try to bring in the vice of hypocritical virtue camouflaged as piety into their country. In a way they don’t fully realize the full extent of the harm they would cause if they were to succeed. To comply with their desire of enforcing a narrow minded perceived goodness would be to take away any real goodness that Egyptians might possess through the power of their choice. In trying to fix they actually destroy.
To enforce this notion of goodness would be to force our youth to follow all the wrong paths when given a choice, would diminish their feeling responsibility for their actions more than it already is, would take away accountability and would deprive them of any learning opportunity they might come across. Worst of all, it deprives them of the pleasure experienced when one chooses to do good as opposed to being forced to doing it.
This is why I’m against insincere virtue, for it is volatile and can’t stand the test of real hardships. I’m aware of the counter point that might be raised, namely our need to prevent harm resulting from other people’s bad choices. This is absolutely valid, but how much protection do people need?
The problem is that gulf wahabi ideas are dogmatic without having much intent. It is not a matter of stopping harm; it’s a matter of stopping choice. Perhaps that’s why even with the choices Arabs might have they don’t choose well. They buy a phone every few months and stuff their garages with all the cars they can amass. They follow the golden rule, when in doubt, choose everything.
While Saudis try to escape the vices of their system by accepting freedom they find in other places, Egyptians are trying to introduce an evil into their own world by rejecting the real virtue we had in our country. Sadly those wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing are contributing to the deterioration of real virtue and replacing it with the ugliest of all vices, hypocrisy. Freedom, the greatest of human ideas which is one of the few universally accepted causes to fight for, is being replaced by the most debasing of ideas ever known to man, slavery.