Last night, I was skyping with a friend of mine who has just started his second semester studying in United States. We discussed many things regarding Kuwaiti society and then, he e-mailed me this article he wrote and asked me to share my thoughts. One word can describe this: WOW. This guy is a very special person who I believe will be something one day. A man who is probably the most tech-savvy and one of the most intelligent people I know. He requested me to refer to him as ‘anonymous’ for this article and I will respect his wish. Here is his views on Kuwaiti society and what’s stopping it from achieving greater things and I guarantee you this is worth reading:
Have you ever felt lost? Have you ever felt the need to be someone else, have different masks? Always just moved within the crowd? Afraid to ask why this or why that? I am writing this article today to share my story, my experience.
Growing up in Kuwait, a small but very rich country with a society that has certain aesthetics and expectations like any other, some good and some bad. For those of you wondering what the word aesthetics mean, “the branch of philosophy dealing with such notions as the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the comic, etc., as applicable to the fine arts, with a view to establishing the meaning and validity of critical judgments concerning works of art, and the principles underlying or justifying such judgments.” In other words, what the society dictates as beautiful or ugly, useful or useless. We all know the phrases and the words we use to describe stupidity and uneducated people. Judging a person by his race, nationality or what language he finds more comfortable. I could list all the phrases and faults of our community but how would that help? Instead I am going to attempt to explain why we actually have those faults. It’s like the famous saying, “Give a hungry man food, he’ll live for a week. Teach him to fish he’ll live for a decade”.
Firstly, I am going to explain something that you usually wouldn’t want an explanation for. As human beings, we communicate and it is one of the most incredible inventions we have ever invented. Let’s break it down; every single language works the same way and has the same purpose. It is to share information, an experience. For example, lets say we have two people, Steve and Jill. Steve is trying to describe the shape of a square, yet Jill has never actually seen a square before so Steve uses metaphors and similes to describe the square. What happens then? It’s pretty simple; Jill visualizes that square using her previous experiences and what she might have seen that is similar to what John describes as a square. Those collections of experiences are called ‘Knowledge Bases’. It is what you use to make choices, ranging from life changing to meaningless ones. So. depending on what Jill has seen before, she might visualize a star.
I know what you’re thinking, how is that relevant? Well, it’s simple: in order to understand our actions, we need to actually understand why we do them. Every single person would be identical if we were all exposed to the same experiences. If everyone had an identical knowledge base, we would all make similar choices. Therefore, who you are as person is what makes you unique depending on what you were exposed too. If you have ever watched CSI, Law and Order or Criminal Minds, in order for the investigators to create a profile for a criminal, they would always analyze what the criminal was exposed to in order for them to determine his or her mindset and probable future actions.
Okay, so that explains what makes us who we are and why we act in a certain way, but what is it that we are being constantly exposed to that is causing us to make the choices that we are making right now? Well, there are many but if I had to combine them into one big experience, I would bet on the constant negativity being spread around our community. Negativity? Yes negativity. Like what? Have you ever had an idea that was ‘outside the box’? A project that was unique and ingenious that required a lot of dedication but, when sharing it, gets shutdown by people with lack of positivity, encouragement and support? Instead of actually supporting us, I find that our society rather has this mentality that ‘if I can’t do it you cant do it’ or ‘what are you doing? Trying to be something you’re not?’ or ‘stick to what you know’. In my case, it was “who do you think you are? Bill Gates?” It is that kind of mentality that destroys a person’s ambitions and dreams. It is that kind of mentality that deprives a person from being who they are, or from actually giving that person a chance to actually realize who they are and what they can be. Why is that all of the new inventions and technology advancements happen in super countries like the United States of America? What do they have that we don’t? Well, if you watch any of their Hollywood or cartoon movies, some very familiar phrases you might have heard of are “You can do anything if you set your mind to it” or “If you can dream it, you can achieve it”. Those are the kind of morals that are instilled in their societies. Those are the morals that encourage and promote innovation and creativity.
Okay, so that makes sense but what can we do to stop it? It’s been seven months since I started studying here in the United States, lived in the dorms for five of those months. I have met new people, embraced new cultures and realized that being a Kuwaiti citizen is a blessing. We have so many things just handed to us, while others have to work day and night to get it. What we need is not money or a new car or crocs; what we need is a wake up call! We need to stop being materialistic! I am not saying wear the same shirt everyday but wearing Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t make you better than anyone else. You don’t need to impress anyone so why not try using that money to invest in your goals or give back to the community? Try to keep your goals less self-centered and more about others. Don’t just stick to the typical stereotype: Degree-Job-Marriage-The End. Your goals don’t necessarily have to be something big like revolutionizing a market, but keep this in mind: don’t leave this world without impacting at least one person’s life in a positive way. After all, that’s all you will leave behind.