We have got it all: the golden sandy beaches, the gorgeous mountains, the mind-blowing desert, the California weather, the exquisite yet affordable cuisine, the strong family ties, the cultural diversity, a rich history, a peaceful present and a promising future ahead. Yet, we are not happy, we don’t respect let alone cherish one another, and we like to blame it all on the System, the Gov’t or plainly on luck. We do better anywhere else, as long as we are far away from home. Why? Legend says a maleficent spell was cast on our nation some years ago that no one has been able to evade albeit by leaving the country. It is probably something we breathe that takes away from our civism and civility … The good news, the curse can be broken, and here is how.
Disclaimer: Below is some unvarnished advice on how you can be the change you want to see in Morocco. Now let me warn you, you may feel that my how-to list is too Americanized. And that’s partly true, after all, I am writing it on a Friday night in WholeFoods… No, seriously, in a way it is and in another it is not. It is as it is inspired by my daily encounters with people across all three distinct US states I have lived in over the last five years. It is not US-centric as it encompasses learnings, attitudes, findings and behaviors I have observed people from as many as fifteen or so countries do while living here. The US remains the common denominator for sure, probably even the enabler, but I believe the model is reproducible.
- Let’s ban Judgeball and keep Football the flagship national sport. In Morocco, we practice judgeball even before we learn how to speak. Judgeball is a game where everyone plays the referee judging others according to their: name/linguistic_abilities/occupation/car/neighborhood/city_of_origin/clothing/glasses/marital_status/ physical_condition/height/weight/you name it… We can even judge you based on the people you hang out with. How cool is that !? The cover for us is more meaningful than the book, the appearance more significant than the essence, and the titles more reliable than the performance. As such, we have created a society that worships labels, is enslaved by brand names and reveres body image. A society where arrogance and self-importance have displaced humility and truthfulness. And if you happen to be God forbid “different”, you are doomed… Let’s start letting people be who they want to be, respecting their choices, giving them their space, granting them second and third chances, minding our own mess and asking ourselves: what if we were in their shoes? Let’s forgive and forsake what seems to be our dearly held motto: ‘I judge therefore I am.’ Amen.
- Practice empathy, extend compassion, embrace your humanity and others’. We are all imperfect. Clearly, we are humans. Let’s embrace that. It’s ok to fail a class. It’s ok to be unemployed after school (for sometime). It is ok to question your faith. It’s ok to be a terrible cook. It’s ok if your mother in law shows up and your house is a mess. It’s ok to love and be loved. It’s ok to love but not be loved. It’s ok not to host a guest that shows up unannounced. It’s ok to suck in math. It is ok to run out of money. And of course, in case you still did not get it, it’s ok not to be married at 30, 40 or whatever your age. In this evanescent life, we are the authors of our own bios, the heroes of our own screenplays, the captains of our own journeys. Let us focus inward on making our journey a remarkable one while letting others define their own version of remarkable.
- Smile to strangers.You all know how far a smile travels. You know how many hearts it can lighten up. Still need proof? From my humble experience, I saw it travel at the speed of light. Do it, it is free yet very enriching to both the receiving and the giving ends. Such a great deal… so, start trying it today
- Be courteous on the road. Give pedestrians the right of way, you are/were/will be one at some point. Give other drivers more courtesy. Drivers will be less frustrated and even more courteous and considerate with time. Regardless of gender, age or social class. Eventually, the road will be what it needs to be, a communal safe place. Let’s give it a try. This can be your daily ‘sadaqa’ that you can do and that will go a long way with very healthy repercussions…
- Take full responsibility. It is not the bus that left you, the cold that hit you, the bad eye that follows you or God that did not favor you. It is not the boss who fired you nor your wife that left you. It’s simply YOU. Take full credit. Man up. Woman up. Not making a choice IS a choice. Letting mom pick out your bride like she has been picking out your clothes ain’t “rda dial l walidin” it is the pinnacle of capriciousness if not the climax of irresponsibility.
- Your parents don’t have it all figured out. Sorry. Your parents are in the same trial-and-error mode as you will be in, a few years from now. Their decisions, beliefs and values are based on their personal experiences, past inhibitions, failed accomplishments, secret aspirations…etc. As such, they are all subject to, listen to this, CHANGE. Yes. We evolve; we grow up as we grow old. So, give them a break. Respect their choices, challenge some if it is worth it, if not, respect them, and (hopefully) make your own.
- Give everyone and anyone the benefit of the doubt…Not all Berbers are stingy, not all Fassis are opportunistic, not all Rbatis are self-absorbed, not all Casaouis are ill-mannered, not all Rifis are conservative…In fact, there is no such thing as an epithet that can span a group of individuals… there may be community-motivated choices and behaviors to fit in and identify to…I just hope you won’t be a mere sheep following the horde… It is about time we drop our Homo homini lupus est attitude and give everyone the right to showcase and define themselves, with no labels.
- Listen. Think, and then maybe, speak. In Morocco, we are the smartest guys in the
roomglobe. We know it all. (Sorry to my non-Moroccan friends). From the latest events, no matter how deep or frivolous to the most sensitive topics we can discuss it all with our on-the-go turbo-diesel ready-made opinions. From the World Cup country selection pools to the players’ bios, moving to the Palestinian cause, the Syrian conflict, the Egyptian revolution, going back all the way to references from the history of slavery in America, the french revolution, and landing on the European constitution! We can discuss all while sipping the same cup of coffee. If you happen to have back pain, we can tell you exactly what warrior yogi pose you need to start doing. We don’t have to read about it nor hear what you, the main protagonist, have to say. We knew America should not have gone into Iraq, knew the World Cup should not have been awarded to Qatar, we knew Obama would be re-elected, we knew Holland, just like Sarkozy, is another puppet, we even know what the doctor is supposed to prescribe to you dear neighbor, if only you asked! We just have not figured out yet the mess we have in-house. Maybe one day, when we start listening, thinking and then maybe talking… Amen.