As an elementary school Cub Scout, Abu Shreek was to participate in the festivities of the grand opening of “Al Jubaiha Amusement Park”: The second of its kind in
Upon arriving at the site, there was the typical scene associated with such “special occasions”: tens of kids in their school uniforms in total chaos, teachers screaming and trying to get them in “two-two” queues, beeping school buses trying to park in reverse, and lots of men in uniform. Our mission was to line up on both sides of the roads and trails of the park, waving flags, as his highness strolls around, examining the features of the facility.
Abu Shreek was issued a little paper flag stapled to a pencil. He adjusted his uniform, straightened his posture, and assumed the set military position with a poker-face full of anticipation, a ninety-degree elbow firmly holding to the flag, and began a dull, yet determined, flag wave. After the second hour, he started to get tired, but on the bright side, the fading sun was not hitting him straight in the face anymore, and the teachers were now allowing for brief “sitting” breaks. But it all seemed worth it since his highness was going to pass right in front of us. After the third hour the teachers ordered the group back to the bus. We were later told that a representative of his royal highness has cut the ribbon, took a brief walk around, and already left. That night on the news, Abu Shreek saw a fat, very funny looking guy with a weird thin line mustache, who is supposed to be like the Mayor or the
For years to come, the incident haunted him, not because his highness did not show up, (after all he must have had very important stuff to take care of, like a meeting at an athletic federation or whatever trivial tasks they fill their time with), but because Abu Shreek keeps trying to justify to himself the reason why he was so excited to have that character pass in front of him! Was it a chance for Abu Shreek to brag to his friends that he got that close to royalty? Or was it for his parents to brag to the neighbors that their kid was at the same place at the same time as his highness? Maybe he was hoping to impress his highness beyond belief to the point that he is offered the position of “his highness’s personal flag waver”? Maybe it is the simple rush a little kid gets from meeting a (what is supposed to be) celebrity?
People like to get close to famous people. But shouldn’t the reason for fame by taken into consideration, and shouldn’t the level of excitement and pride in meeting someone be proportional to the level of the accomplishments and achievements of the celebrity? For example, if one meets that rich Hilton heir, who achieved her fame based on excessive partying and a movie entitled “Inside the Hilton of Paris” or whatever it was called (reads: porn), one should not be as excited as meeting Hakeem Olajuwon, an accomplished athlete and a great human being. So are some people really famous or brains are being washed into submission to a fake aura and a completely false notion of infallibility?
The most confusing part is the sight of a senior member of an alleged opposition party bending over backwards to shake hands with some insignificant “highness”, whose only talent is the ability to waste absurd amounts of the country’s modest resources in record times. What about all these pictures hanging in the middle of living rooms where a distinguished professor, a successful businessman, or a world-class athlete is shaking hands in submission and humility (actually humiliation)? Shouldn’t the fact that every household has at least two of those royal Longines watches be enough to make them loose a little of their luster?
An older role model was awarded “The Education Medal of the second degree”. He accepted the award, but he refused to attend the ceremony or to display the medal! Every time he would spot it sitting on the TV or in any visible place he will instantly discard it. He was proud of the job he did in educating the youth, but he refused to take pride in an acknowledgement from, what he considered, a regressive and oppressive regime. His pride is generated from serving his country, not from an illegitimate authority giving him credit for it.
Abu Shreek later realized that, as a Cub Scout, he has learned to love his country. And whether the prince shows up or not he should be proud to participate in any significant national event or activity that could benefit his home. Not because he wanted to get close to some medieval court member, not because he wanted to appear on TV, not because he wanted to brag to his peers and not because he was hoping the prince will toss him a bag of golden coins or yell to his assistance: “يا غلام اعطه الف دينار”.