Whatever happened to being blissfully ignorant?

It astounds me to hear my family say they are worried about me because I live in the UAE. It embarrasses me that the people I love and call my parents still think that the entire Middle East is one huge training ground for terrorists (this word is SO over used), that all women in the Middle East are abused and that because I am an American living in the Middle East, I am in GRAVE DANGER…..

I thought about asking you guys to help me convince my family that we are safe here in our little bubble, but then got so pissed off that I just decided to type up an e-mail about it. I have not sent it yet. I am nervous…. What do you guys think? Read it here and let me know if I am on target or if I am just living in a dream world and have no clue.

Here it is:

With the war happening in Lebanon/Israel and the war in Iraq, I guess some of you may be a little worried and nervous for us. My first words to you are: DON’T BE. Don’t be worried about us. Don’t be nervous about where we are.

Nothing has changed here from the first day we got here (almost a year ago now!). It was safe then and it is safe now. The crisis in Lebanon and Israel is what it is, but it is not affecting our lives at all. Well, that is not true. It is affecting our lives somewhat because we have friends who are still stuck there and we worry about their safety – but they are in Lebanon. Here in the UAE, we just finished a charity event to raise money for Lebanon. We have had no demonstrations, there have been no weirdos gunning anyone down out of protest, or anything of the sort. We are perfectly safe here. So, stop your worrying. You do not need to upset yourselves with it….we are safe.

I don’t know what to tell you so that you believe me because I know that some of you have your own ideas about what it is like here….. Before I moved here, I was afraid. I thought that it would be like what I saw on the news…. a dried up dusty place with worn out buildings and camels everywhere. In reality, it is NOTHING like that. I thought that people would see my white skin and instantly know I was an American and there fore I would be called names, shunned or hissed at. In reality, I am asked if I am British or Australian. They have no clue….. When I tell them I am American, the reaction is a big smile and the person proceeds to tell me something that they know about the US….(trips to Houston or Chicago for instance or they talk about our sports teams). The Emirates are friendly accommodating people and we are met with smiles and pleasantness every where we go. In [the Major’s] work, he has made many good friends and we have learned the meaning of Arab Hospitality first hand. These people would give you the shirt off their back if they know you. Please, please, please don’t worry about us and please let go of every thing you think you know about Arabs.

We are OK now and we are safe. We will continue to be OK too. There is no feeling of hatred, animosity, bad blood or tension here. I am sure that there are bad people here, as there are everywhere in the world, but I can assure you that I am more safe at my mall in Al Ain than you are going to your mall in the US. I can guarantee you that we will never experience someone walking into a school, bank, post office or public building to gun people down. I can guarantee you that the biggest danger we face here is getting into a car accident (which is very real here and usually fatal – not unlike driving in any large US city).

I also know that sometimes I am thought of as naive when it comes to these matters, since I tend to see the good in everyone. That may be the case for some things, but not for this. I live here. I play here. My children go to school here. I am safe in Al Ain. If it were not safe here for us, I would be sitting happily in either my mom’s living room or [FIL’s] living room right now. To further put your mind at ease, we do have plenty of credit in our travel account now to purchase quick tickets home if we need to (even though we won’t need to). We are also registered with the US Embassy and are on the high priority evacuation list (although I don’t think there is enough clearance in our front driveway for a big helicopter since we have that hideous dolphin fountain now….).

The general feeling I am getting from most people I talk to is shock, disbelief and incredible sadness. People are afraid for their friends and family in Lebanon, but are not protesting and yelling and screaming about it here. The majority of the Middle east is anti Israel and the main source of aggravation for them is that the Western world is pro Israel. I don’t understand the history or the politics of any of it so I do not choose sides. I personally feel like the entire situation is messed up.

I don’t know if this will help or not, but I have copied the web addresses for a couple local newspapers, some demographic information and a link to Al-Jazeera news. Notice the lack of stories about Lebanon? You can run a search on Bloggers in the UAE…they aren’t talking about it there either.

I really hope you guys know and believe that we are in absolutely no danger here in Al Ain as a result of these wars.

Main site for the al-bab.com: http://www.al-bab.com/arab/countries/uae.htm

News and a lot of links for the UAE: http://www.al-bab.com/arab/news/uae.htm

Country study of UAE: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/aetoc.html

Local news and information: http://www.7days.ae/category/news/local-news/

Story about how the US media slants the news and how you are not getting the whole/real story about Lebanon: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/AEEFA95C-1ED7-4BD0-9CE5-7FEEC2613B68.htm

Link to Al-Jazeera news: http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage

And just for good measure, here is a blog about Baghdad…. http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

Oh my goodness! I went to CNN.com to see what you guys are reading about and it seems that everywhere in the US, someone is shooting someone else, driving their cars into buildings and killing each other. I don’t miss that. I am happy to be away from it….and to think, I had to come to the Middle East to escape death and killing…..

Alright, bring it on. I know that this e-mail will not make all of you happy. That’s OK, just don’t call me an idiot behind my back. Please e-mail me and let me know you think I am a loon, OK?

Love to all!
~

So, should I send it or should I just file it under “things in your journal you really need to deal with but are too chicken to do so”?

Thanks all!
~JAM

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Whatever happened to being blissfully ignorant?

  1. Reassure them when you talk. Also perhaps give them the links to different news when you chat. That’s what helped me understand. Well that and reading the blogs of locals day to day views on life in the UAE. Happy Sunday!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s