Monday, 3 March 2008

The Testosterone Factor

This morning I received a chain email by a friend and colleague with the following content:

"Normality

March, 02 2008 By Faheem Hussain

"It's very nice to be a sort of normal person for once, I think this is about as normal as I'm ever going to get." - Prince Harry on his time in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

The BBC reported these words with approval. It’s nice to know that this is what is considered normal for a young man in the UK. I guess it is normal to send 23 year olds to join an illegal occupation army. It is normal to call in air strikes (this was Harry’s job) to drop 1000-pound bombs on villages killing and destroying men, women, children, animals. It is normal to go on foot patrol in an occupied country and look down with contempt on the poor people of the country and it is normal to feel the hatred emanating from the people of the occupied country.

I am sure that Prince Harry feels terribly elated and uplifted by his 10 weeks in Helmand where he did his duty in the great Western “humanitarian” enterprise to spread democracy and bring development to Afghanistan. Did he ever wonder why NATO is losing the war in Afghanistan? Did he ever wonder why the resistance is getting popular support? Did he ever think of why opium production in Afghanistan has reached record levels since the US and NATO occupied the country? Did he ever look at the suppressed women in burkas and wonder what happened to all the promises of “liberating women” which was one of the so-called humanitarian reasons given by the US for attacking Afghanistan? Or was he there just to have a “normal” time with the blokes, kick around a football, have a couple of beers, try to push start an abandoned motorbike and have a fun time interspersed with calling in air strikes to kill a few more Afghans?

Perhaps this is what is recommended for the “gap year”. Take a mini-break, go to Afghanistan (or Iraq or wherever), have a fun time with the blokes, kill a few locals and be back to the cool life in the UK feeling fulfilled that you are a “normal” bloke now. Such an experience will surely stand you in good stead for the rest of your life."

Faheem Hussain claims that he is Visiting Professor of Physics at the School of Science and Engineering, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan. I do not know him.

Faheem may be right in a way. But isn’t it all about young men without social perspective? Is Harry (23) so much different from his peers in Afghanistan? A young man without any ‘normal’ perspective, coming third in line for the succession to the throne. A half-orphan as so many young men in Afghanistan? Another victim of wrong and misleading education? With a deep desire of finding sense in his life? With a perceived future which can be considered only horrible?

To be honest, I find his engagement honorable. I do not agree with Faheem on his mere speculations on Harry’s attitude when serving in Afghanistan, and I am quite convinced that his sojourn in Afghanistan has modified his views about the operation.

Anyway, it is uneducated young men without any social perspective who are considered the most dangerous species on Earth. It might be called the testosterone factor, which makes life in countries so unbearable, at least for women, where they have got the opportunity of dominating daily life.

It’s in a way a shame that especially Islamic countries have developed into ‘boys’ countries’ during the past few decades. Where women (mothers !) have long given up the careful upbringing of their sons, their development of emotional intelligence, empathy, social competence, responsibilities for nature, culture, and so many other things.

When living in the Middle East and later I have learned from countless discussions with women, citizens of their countries, how deep these deficits in fact are, especially in Arab countries and Iran. Of course, societies do not change in one or two generations. But we have to find a way of putting more emphasis on the role of women in the prevention of irrational acts which have led to a war on terror and Islam. I am not talking about resistance fighters, that will be another story.

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