Amman, Jordan. After a pretty non-eventful (yet exhausting) journey from Dallas, I arrived here in Amman in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday. British Airways lived up to its reputation for good food, although the flight was an hour late taking off. It seems some things never change, regardless of where you are.
I doubt I’ll take the trip the same way next time. I flew into Gatwick Airport on American Airlines, stood in line for 45 minutes just to get a bus ticket to take me to Heathrow, stood in line for another 90-minutes to check-in, and then waited for four hours for the British Airways flight that was late. I do have to admit, however, that Heathrow is home to some of the best people-watching in the world.
I should also note that airport security is actually tighter in the U.S. than it is in London, where terrorism seems a little more front and center on the world stage. It was a breeze to get through screening, for example, at Heathrow, where nobody demands that you take off your shoes.
I have much to write about already. My son-in-law, Waseem, took me through the cable channels that he has available, and it brought to mind the contemporary absurdity of Napoleon’s old “the victor gets to write the history” saying. Let me tell you folks, that statement is no longer possible in war time, for the reality is that there are many versions of truth when it comes to war.
And all of them are present on cable TV in Jordan, including the channel that speaks for the Iraqi resistance. Numerous versions of propaganda are there for the average citizen to weigh, and I have to believe this is ultimately healthy for a region dominated by colonialism for centuries. Juxtaposition, for example, the American general saying everything’s fine on the Arab language channel created by the U.S. with the resistance channel’s video showing just the opposite. And much of this video (which shows up on Al Jazeera two hours later) isn’t shot by professional news crews; it’s our old friend “citizen journalism” telling the tale in picture and in sound. Cell phones, it seems, are a new weapon of war.
And my son-in-law’s window on the world is much wider than mine.
Suffice it to say that in Jordan, Americans are not a popular lot. In fact, we’re now viewed with disdain by virtually everyone in the Middle East, including the Israelis. Our words ring hollow and they’re sung to the tune of oppressive British colonialism. Waseem tells me stories that I wish everyone in the U.S. could hear, of shifting sands and changing tides that reflect a world with its back to an America that it used to love, admire and respect. No longer do the people here wish to emulate us, for they believe our government has destroyed all that was noble about us. They don’t hate Americans, but they wonder how we can support such selfishness.
I write about in this blog and in my essays of how we’ve entered the age of participation, about how people trust each other more than the institutions that govern the status quo. This same energy is empowering the people here, people who trust only each other. Decisions about oppression don’t come from the newspaper or television; they come from the real life experiences of friends and family.
We’ve spoken of what I call the “cross-over” experience, where one finds it impossible to despise those who are different after spending time sharing in their culture. Look at these pictures. These are my grandchildren, my flesh and blood. They are beautiful to the core. They share American and Palestinian blood, and I pray they will know peace in their lifetimes.
Below is a picture of the men of the family, of which I am now proudly a member. Look at their faces and see the happiness emanating from a genuinely close-knit group, one that has known heartbreak but has emerged with dignity, self-respect and depth of character. These are my people, my brothers, my friends, my family. And nothing shall ever sever that connection, for here we are one.
One of life’s secrets is that we are all one of the One who is God,
He who is in the sun
And in the fire
And in the heart of man is One.
He who knows this is one with The One.
Salamu alaikum, peace be with you.