Tuesday, February 28, 2012

عاند و لا تحسد

"3aned wa la Tahsad"
This is an Algerian proverb, or word of wisdom which means try to follow, or emulte (the person/nation in question) rather than envy them without attempting to achieve the same. It is amazing how a two-word proverb needs so much wording to explain. It just goes to show the power of these phrases. Our culture, probably not different from other cultures, is very rich in these. It is not my intention here to discuss the power of proverbs but this is just an introduction to what comes next which is a suggestion of how one can learn from other people’s experiences  to move forward. 
Ancient civilizations that have contributed immensely to the advancement of humanity, despite being separated from each other geographically as well as chronologically have interacted and influenced each other. The greatest example of this is probably the establishment of Carthage by the Phoenicians, and the more recent one, which is the role of the Islamic Civilization in the enlightenment of Europe and subsequently, the renaissance and the rise of Western civilization.
It appears that the closer we go to the twentieth century, the clearer the influence of other people’s experiences becomes apparent. This ability to learn from the other has contributed in accelerating the advancement of many countries in the last century. The United States has benefited immensely from the European experience and managed to even overtake Europe in a short time. Japan is another great example of how using other nations’ experiences can help accelerate development and achieve miracles. China is another example of how a country can emerge in a very short period of time when all the necessary elements of development such as good ideas, good management, human potential, and most importantly good will and passion for change and improvement are present.
Although all these experiences are worthy of close study, I am more interested in examples that are closer to home in terms of culture, religion, and social structure. Two countries that have recently emerged as having made a big step in terms of development are Turkey and Malaysia. I believe that much can be learnt from these two nations in terms of their vision and how they managed in a relatively short time to realize these visions and say good bye to poverty and under-development. The Malaysian experience is of paramount importance to a country like ours. Of course, I believe that one has to learn from all other experiences. As famous saying in English goes "we do not want to reinvent the wheel”, No one does. In fact there is not enough time for it, there will never be.
Many people believe that we (Algerians) are resistant to development and that if we had the will we could do miracles, I could not agree more. Miracles can be achieved in our country, because we are so behind in so many areas that moving one step forward is a miracle itself. I am a believer that simplicity is the key to success for individuals as well as nations. Trying to complicate things, like people tend to do in our country, is one of the biggest obstacles to our development. Another aspect of the Algerian psyche is the need for a system that is typical to us. I believe that we do have a system that is typical to us, it is failing, no one else has tried it, and no one else ever will. Therefore, it is high time we tried things that have been tested and validated. Some people always try to see the failures in other systems, and avoid them altogether. Some of our ministers go as far as criticizing other systems without even opening their eye to their strengths. One can criticize everything in this life, but the clever ones are those who can take the good and minimize the bad. No system is perfect, and there are not a million and one systems in the world.
Great nations do learn from each other and arrogant ones do not. I think it is high time for us to try and catch up with other nations. May be our "no system" is sustainable for as long as our oil wells are functional. However, these have a limited lifetime and the consequences of continuing like this are detrimental.
Our leaders are pumping billions of dollars into the economy at a time when other nations are struggling to pay their debts. We should count ourselves lucky to have such a rich country, but the wealth of our nation has not benefitted the people. We need ways of channeling the wealth to the people. People want to see good education and health system, less crime, and more jobs. We would like to see a vision and a detailed strategy (with numbers) that cover the next 20 years, a plan that we can follow and that will give people hope.

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