Thebastidge: Mobile again
  • Cascade Policy Inst.
  • Evergreen Freedom Foundation
  • Free State Project
  • Seastead Institute
  • Open Carry.Org
  • No Nonsense
  • TDA Training
  • Believe it
  • -->

    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Mobile again

    It's been a rough couple days- not only has the temperature shot up this week, but I had a flat the other day.

    Being in a war zone, and largely cut off from normal human interactions like going shopping out in public, makes everything more difficult. Getting a simple bicycle inner tube is not always guaranteed. My bike is my primary means of transportation. Not that I have to do a whole lot of traveling, but I live a good fraction of amile from where I work. it's easily a 20, 25 minutes walk, while it takes me less than half of that to ride there, and makes it much easier to carry a rucksack with whatever I might need for the day- gym clothes, laptop, book, whatever.

    I also travel from one compound to another to eat, to go to the PX, whatever. It's not horrible, but it adds up to several miles of walking per day, which is admittedly good for me, but also time consuming and getting into the really hot time of year when you just don't want to be outside in direct sunlight any longer than you have to- especially the melanin-deficient like me.

    So being down for a couple days while I acquired a new tube wasn't all that fun. Fortunately today my co-worker (who became aware of my predicament last night), graciously donated a spare to me, and I've got wheels again this afternoon. With the able assistance of one of our Iraqi colleagues, that is.

    Which brings me to another random topic. Some of these guys are really cool. there are vast gulfs between most of them and most of us, but as I've always believed, there is more in common between human beings than there is different. I've also written here and in other places that I believe some of those differences are irreconcilable, but that's not my point today.

    Some guys here I can relate to very well- working guys, trying to get along in the world, trying to make things better for themselves and their families. It's really a humanizing experience to talk to these guys when you travel together under threat of death, eat out of the same MRE packages, bathe and shit and sleep in the same places for days on end. You hear some of the hardships that they have undergone and still see everyday, in some cases, and it makes you rather contemptuous of petty whining back home.

    Some guys I have a very colleague-like relationship; we're just guys who work together, but even then it's usually clear that I am in charge, or at least senior to them. without a word being said, and without my asserting that, it just seems to be expected. there's really no jockeying for control between those guys and us Americans. there's status posturing between them, and sometimes between us, but the relationship seems clearly accepted. which is a bit odd to me at times.

    With other guys (who I'm largely not as comfortable with, to be honest) there's an unsettling tendency toward deference that can only be described as 'colonial obsequiousness." Our Iraqis try to make sure that we don't carry equipment, or they jump in if we're getting dirty doing something, and sometimes we have to tell them that we're fine doing the work. It's kind of a "yes, bwana" attitude like you would see in some 50's or 60's movie about African safaris or something.

    Some of us Americans have discussed this, and it really weirds us out at times. Whatever people may think from outside the US, and what certain academics/leftists within our society may claim, the average American is not comfortable with obvious inegalitarian displays. Whatever our vaunted 'American exceptionalism' or 'arrogance', we really do believe that being an American is an attitude and philosophy, not a race, that men should not kowtow to each other, that authority should be awarded on a meritocratic basis, and therefore we listen to the boss out of respect for his experience and judgement rather than for his titular authority.

    I don't know how much of this deference is really a vestigial colonial social artifact, or how much of it is Iraqi culture. I suspect not much is directly Iraqi, because Arabs in general don't have the 'work ethic' of pride in manual labour that that America has.

    As a side note, Arab culture seems to have 3 traditionally honourable occupations; raiding, trading, and herding. In other words, 1: it's cool to steal and rob stuff to sell, or 2: pay for goods in one place and sell them elsewhere if you can't steal them, but actually making stuff yourself is looked down upon. And the third, raising horses, sheep, goats, and camels demonstrates your connection to the noble heritage of the pure, unsullied Bedouin warrior from the golden age before cities steeped the world in sin.

    I also sometimes wonder if this deferential behaviour is a result of our having conquered them militarily- extremely macho cultures tend to invest a lot of their pride in martial prowess and therefore when they lose, they sometimes flip completely to emulation of their conqueror, or lose their identity in that of their conquerors.

    I don't think we'd be so lucky as to have that result in Iraq.

    Where ever it comes from, it's not really a comfortable fit.


    Blogger Lil said...

    I'm fascinated by all that you write about the culture there. It seems so vastly different than what I'm used to. What you said about making stuff yourself being looked down upon really startled me -- I'm so used to a culture where handmade things are prized. It's so easy to just go buy a blanket here, so a blanket that was quilted or crocheted by hand is such a treasure because so many hours of love have been put into it.

    And what you said about "rather contemptuous of petty whining back home," I can so relate to that!!! Every time I hear someone (including myself) complaining about some little thing (like a bad hair day, or a spilled glass of water), I do my best to remember that if that's the worst thing they have to complain about, life is pretty damned good to them!!!

    1:07 PM  

    Post a Comment

    Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

    << Home