Jordan's Culture abandoning compassion and embracing violence

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/02/2014 - 17:49

Culture is the set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a group of people, but different for each individual, communicated from one generation to the next (Matsumoto, 1996). While violence, as defined by the World Health Organization, is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation. These violent acts can by physical, sexual, psychological and deprivation or neglect.

Once borrowing the above definition of violence and observing the evolving attitudes and behaviors colored with verbal and physical violence in Jordan, not least people heading towards embracing ultra-conservative beliefs and attitudes which cancel the other different. It's due to acknowledge the painful reality that the culture of violence is very much present in Jordan.

But how the relevant experts perceive this horrendous reality and what solutions they provide?

Religion is a crucial factor in molding peoples' values and beliefs which can be transformed from a constructive tool into an instrument of instigating violence. In this respect, two key Jordanian figures promoting a culture of tolerance and compassion shared Alarab Alyawm readers with their perceptions of the issue.

Violence is not an intrinsic component of the Jordanian Society. It's the outcome of incidental and reversed circumstances, as it is the case with the Zionist occupation and the war in Iraq and in Syria. In addition to some internal factors, which consolidate the culture of violence, like the tribal bigotry and superiority which weaken sense of citizenship and the role of the civil society. Further, it's essential not to overlook the impact of austere religious oration which dictates rules of atonement and spreads animosity and sectarian and religious conflicts with it legitimizing and sustaining the culture of violence.

Jesus labeled the person who is angry with his brother as liable to judgment as is a killer. With crimes everywhere, violence is becoming an integral aspect of Jordan's society. Violence ceased to be an occasional phenomenon, rather a mentality. Hatred and vengeance replaced forgiveness and compassion. It's crucial to declare a state of emergency and invest all possible tools to rehabilitate the Jordanian society at large to overcome such violent thinking, attitude and behavior and spread cooperation and open-mindedness. Efforts should be concerted involving families, relevant public and civil society institutions, and foremost schools through further consolidating values and ethics of tolerance and self-restraint in the curriculum. Shared humane principles and values among monotheistic religions must be highlighted through media means, seminars and workshops.

This said, politicized religion has become the factor most threatening human security and undermining its crucial pillar of freedom from violence. Political scientist seasoned in Jordan's foreign and domestic politics and a human rights expert forwarded to the author their insights of this most relevant aspect.

The Jordanian culture has become one of violence. Its origins go to earlier decades when entering into alliance exclusively with Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was adopted as a tool to counter leftist ideologies. Thus, all the space was given to replace the components of culture with all what is linked to what MB promotes to the extent of losing the control of its hegemony. Cultural hubs promoting art diminished in Jordan where some Jordanians even moved towards identifying with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), accepting and practicing what this phenomenon entails of not only rejecting the other but even eliminating it. Culture of violence is prospering and moving towards culture of elimination of the other. An urgent need arises to promote and support enlightened Jordanian elites to counter the emerging culture intolerant of the other.

Jordan's culture is transforming into one of violence. The regional milieu and the domestic socioeconomic factors in Jordan, foremost the absence of any hope for class mobility, are pushing Jordanians towards the very extreme option of accepting what ISIS offers of the glorious path that leads to heaven and all sorts of hopes. While the absence of freedom of expression presents yet another crucial element in people's adopting verbal or physical violence as the only available path to reflect their frustrations. Violent acts have become easy path with the perpetrators not feeling deterred to commit further atrocities due to shortcoming in both the enforcement of law and soft sentences.

It's indeed ironic for Jordan with its high percentage of university graduates to be prone to culture of violence. But do Jordanian universities represent a hub for deterring and discouraging such conducts and enhance healthy comportments? A veteran member of the first Jordanian University conveyed to the author most relevant contextual and actual response.

The societal violence in Jordan, which reached the universities, indicates formidable imbalances in the social composition and the prevailing value system. Jordan's society lost its direction and had its identity deformed. And only within the personal, local and global context, one can best understand and counter violence. Violence in Jordan's universities breeds on six factors: Media that promotes violence; frustration; the prevailing culture; teaching information while overlooking behavioral and skill aspects; lax legal system and disintegration of the social and value system; the failure of universities of being agents of change and in developing and shaping the character of a university student and preparing them for work and social life.

In the light of the above-mentioned, the need arises to consider all the issues of great national significance discussed earlier on this page of Alarab Alyawm: Good Governance & Good Citizenship, Women & Youth Issues, Arab Media, and Corruption with one aim of best investing these issues to become the right positive factors that can redirect Jordan's culture to its original profile of one of tolerance and compassion.

Images, Video or Audio
By Madeleine Mezagopian