Saturday, September 6, 2008

Can I get a Word In?

Yesterday, I was invited to a friend’s house to break Iftar. I have known this friend for over 10 years now ever since he interviewed me and subsequently, I was hired with an American multinational in Beirut. As he was the main sales person within the Consumer Division and I was the marketing person, we have had our fair share of conflicts within the scope of work. Our boss suffered greatly as he tried to facilitate our differences. Subsequently, I came to Dubai and he followed one year later and we have stayed in touch.

Mohamed is one of those guys whom I get annoyed with especially when we are debating a certain topic. I would always try to reason with him, as well as some of his other friends, but to no avail. He would get easily peeved, his tone of voice rising and rising, until it reaches the point whereby you either keep your silence or risk alienating your friendship altogether.

What is his red line? Well, it is whenever Arab politics are debated, especially the PLO and his beloved leader, Yasser Arafat. You see, Mohamed is a Palestinian refugee whose family are vehemently pro-Fatah supporters whom witnessed the Fedayeen movement within Lebanon during the 80s and 90s. Although he is the only one of his nuclear family to speak with a Lebanese (even Beiruti accent) due to him growing up amongst Lebanese friends in his formative years, he places himself as the voice/soul of the Palestinian people and their consciousness. To him, and this is my main criticism, there are only two viewpoints; the correct one (which is his) and the incorrect one (which is any other countervailing argument). Similar to George W. Bush’s mantra: You are with us or against us, it leaves no room for compromise or a basis for reaching a mutual solution.

My sister, during one of her visits to Dubai, at last made me understand where he is coming from which I never understood. It was a personal belief and nobody could make him see it differently. Blind faith in Yasser Arafat was Mohamed’s prerogative and his reason for being. My sister stated: If someone was to try and convince you that your religion, Islam, is incorrect, then how would your reaction be? At last, it dawned upon me.

Thus, these days, I stopped attempting to try and convince Mohamed of the wrong in his arguments. Rather, I just sit back and enjoy the show. Why get worked up and annoyed about something that I cannot influence. In addition, I see that my little sister (she is younger than me by 9 years) has matured from the little kid into a young adult woman and our relationship should be based upon mutual respect and not my imposition of right and wrong on her.

Are my actions correct? What do you think?

1 comment:

Duffy said...

I have a friend who does something similar. He is known for his aburd tales of feats accomplished, celebrities met, impossible golf shots and the like. I, like you, used to go crazy arguing with him. Now and I just shrug and laugh and let him have his stories.