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10/15/2008

The poorest country in the world



Today the world is blogging poverty.

According to the UN, about 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes.

According to me, none of these 25,000 are Jordanian. 

I thought about what to blog today many times over the weeks. I finally decided that I wanted to blog about the poorest form of poverty. A poverty that destroys from the inside, no matter how rich the outside may look. It’s a poverty that suffocates and starves and blinds and deafens and impedes.

Today this blog is dedicated to Jordan - the poorest country in the world. And why getting Jordan out of poverty should be the priority of every Jordanian.

  • But Jordanians are not dying of hunger.
  • Jordanians are not homeless in the streets.
  • Jordanian babies are not dying in the hundreds because of malnutrition.
  • Jordanian kids are not walking around with bulging stomachs.
  • Jordanian communities are not dying of XDR TB.
Brand Jordan is bust though. Today, ironically, I’m looking at Brand Jordan from the outside, and honestly, I have no idea what it stands for. No clue. It’s so broken, I recognize and see nothing. With such a crackling reputation and rock bottom poverty attitude, how are we expected to build and nurture?

Why is Jordan one of the poorest countries in the world?
  1. Because we have people goals, and we are still not building people capacities.
  2. Because we claim huge people assets and have very little to show in intellectual and created outputs.
We can find the money for a physical structure, because we’re pros at putting up erections, but we won’t invest in educating 10 people to become the best cultural curators around to infuse life into these buildings and run them once the structure is finished. Building after building, city after town they come up and remain lifeless coz no one knows how to program them and give them a pulse.

Because we count monuments and initiatives, and no one keeps count of the wasted, lifeless, unused spaces where nothing happens. No one tracks the initiatives that get the best kick off at the start line, but never make it to the finish line.

Because most of our Jordanian Embassies around the world are not cultural Ambassadors for the Jordanian product – neither the tangible nor the intangible, and certainly not for Brand Jordan. They do not have music libraries nor films nor books nor paintings nor sculptures nor databases of creative workers and their portfolios. The do not have an online database of updated cultural and creative products from Jordan. They do not know what gets made, they do not celebrate the makers, they do not seek. They do not tap into the riches being made, everyday, instead they choose to represent poverty.

Because our media leads with doom and gloom and news about things that go boom. But the media will not tell you about the upside of the economic down slide. They don’t tell you about how this is a great time to start your own business in Jordan. They don’t tell you about why it’s better for you to take your lunch from home to work, instead of ordering in or junking out. The media don’t encourage you to walk and car pool. The media don’t tell you soulful stories about local heroes, but will run a cold press release about nothing, anytime.

Because our media has succumbed to the poorest form of journalism which does not require investigation, nor responsibility, nor integrity, nor risk, and instead is a bad copy/paste job of sensationalized stuff on pages and screens and airwaves.

Because it’s 2008 and people living in our refugee camps live in sub human conditions. Does it make us weaker if we build camps inside Jordan with dignity? Homes and schools and streets that respect people instead of reminding them about their dead end hopelessness.

Because we don’t respect the Jordanian nationality of a woman, and we do not allow her to pass on this nationality to her children who are born in Jordan of a non-Jordanian father.

Because we are passive aggressive with our social codes thru which we are castrating our men, mutilating our women, stunting our kids, and dishonoring our elders.

Because we don’t believe that the next remarkable MP who will change the world is a sophomore at the University of Jordan right now. And the world will only discover this person if the students are helped to achieve successful student council elections this year – their first full elections since I don’t know when.

Because our streets are full of feel good ads about stuff. The signs do not include the faces and names of the mothers and sisters and daughters who were slaughtered in the name of (dis)honor. The streets do not remind us of the blood on our hands. The billboards do not tell us the dysfunctional stories of the motherless and bastard children left behind. The wallpaper does not remind us of the criminals running loose among us who take the law into their hands and dishonor, and an entire nation enjoys watching the horror scenes. One free for all reality show.

Because we don't believe in good governance, transparency, nor accountability. Because so many of our public servants do not respect themselves nor the honor of service of their posts, but they speak in the name of honor.

Because when something bad happens somewhere in Wadi Musa, and people are involved in an accident, the first question the cops ask when they arrive on the scene is: ‘fi ajanib?’

Because we spend limitless time and money and resources on being defensive when we are accused of something, instead of making the same investment in genuine, hard work that delivers great which cannot be refuted and does not need getting defensive over.

Because we do not harvest our collective expertise and experiences and build/weave/nurture. We're in some weird and perpetual reformat-with-every-sunrise mode.

I think it’s possible for Jordan to become one of the richest countries in the world. I think we are able to achieve this right now, during this economic downward spiral. And once we do, we can turn around and address our other challenges, and in the same breath look out to the world and help out there.

Imagine how fast we can inject a pick me up enema into Jordan and provide proof of hope and possibility.

Imagine how much wealth can be uncovered if we look in the right places.

Imagine if we embraced an open attitude.

Imagine if the CEOs of every single company decided to take public transportation to work next week.

Imagine if every affluent Ammani mother walked and/or used public transportation to get her kid/s to and from school for a month.

Imagine if PR agencies said no to their clients about writing and running press releases that say nothing.

Imagine if government stopped talking in press release lingo and thru band aid strategy.

Imagine if the communication around important causes and great issues was effective rather than insulting advertising.

Imagine if the ad spend of Jordan invests 10% into a couple of Jordanian athletes over the next 4 years towards getting them to the 2012 Olympics with the objective of gold. Imagine how many remarkable media-worthy stories that can be over the 4 years, which Brand X can bring to the world. Imagine how much more value that can be over the tired, painful, wasteful media spend. Imagine the 2012 Olympics, and because of Brand X, Athletes A & B gets to go with confidence, and Jordan stands as tall as the richest country on earth.

Imagine if we delivered on our heritage legacy of Arab generosity, and instead of saying, ‘you’re nothing, you’re not Jordanian’, we could ask with pride, ‘would you like to be Jordanian?’ You want social reform and social activism? People need to belong first. Once they belong, they will stand up for something.

Imagine if there was an exchange program between kids in Jordan across social groups.

Imagine if we really delivered that revolution for education.

Imagine if developers contributed a couple of high-rises for new and improved housing needs in each of our congested refugee camps.

Imagine if we believed that the soul is in the details, and worked fueled with that soul.

Imagine if the public sector had conversations with communities instead of the charade of monologue-like actions.

Imagine if low income housing was structured with soul and life and creativity and environmental sense, rather than blocks and locks. Imagine if instead of using the language ‘low income housing’ we said, ‘creating new lifestyles’? Wouldn’t that push us to design more relevantly instead of tick boxes in an excel sheet already crumbling?

Imagine how rich we can all be. And when we are, imagine the remarkable ways in which we can move on to the next level and change the world....
'Hello, this is Jordan and we're here to contribute. What can we do for you?'
It's 2008, there's no excuse for poverty. It's time we pulled Jordan out of this poverty stricken rut. And as soon as we do, we will know how to contribute and turn the daily 25,000 hunger deaths into 0!

Of course it’s easy to have clarity of thought and confidence, and it’s certainly a tad out of whack that I’m blogging this as I look out over the maddening crowd on the Croisette, and in a few minutes will be getting on my way to join yet another party exploring what’s next.


11 comments:

Qwaider said...

Hands down, the BEST "Blog action day" post I've read all day!

*bows down in respect*

Nadia Norvang said...

This is the most interesting post I have read for a long time - but what will it take to make the changes?

What will it take to change Jordan towards the better?

MommaBean said...

Very nicely said and an excellent reminder about the "other" poverty. The poverty of spirit that is at epidemic levels in Jordan.

wael attili said...

Why are we poor;

Simply because we don't act like a nation... we don't feel it and we don't know anything about it..

we are raised to serve the Authority and "people", to please the Authority.. this is what they thought us in schools.. but we never learned to serve a nation.. to think like a nation and to act like one.. the land, place and belonging are missing..

jessyz said...

A terrific post, I think it also applies to Egypt. The million dollar question how do we change the situation right now on both an individual and national level?

diala said...

Thank you, Nadine.

Ahmad Humeid said...

"imagine"

nadine said...

*bows back in gratitude to qwaider*

@Nadia & Jessyz- it takes individual people to stand up for what they truly believe, speak out, work towards that goal. It's about people moving from being spectators to activists. Our governments do not have the solutions and do not have the guts - they are as stuck as everyone else. Choose one topic important to you - no matter how big or small it is. If it matters enough to you, you will find ways to work towards it. We have to stop talking and just do things. And if you're not a trouble maker or a freak or a heretic - then find someone who is and bring them on board your cause - real change usually happens when an organized force of disruption implodes. It's not smooth, it's not polite, it's not comfortable - but it is the only way to enforce change. And if you have confident vision towards ur cause and if it's important for everybody, then you will find a whole force who wants to join you, and you will all succeed. There are no rules - only passion and determination.

@mommabean - this epidemic must be eradicated - everyone is exhausted!

@Wael - you're very right. Enough grazing. People need to develop relationships with their place.

Thank you for stopping by Diala.

@Humeid - I think imagination is the only ingredient of sanity to hold on to and work thru.

Anonymous said...

This post made me cry!

tikno said...

Great post. I also get involved to Blog Action Day. Hope these global action will raise the awareness against poverty.

Anonymous said...

What a sad post!