Joy vs. suffering

The two dominant cultures in the Middle East


Joy vs. suffering
by masoudA

I wish to start this article by first making sure readers fully understand what culture is and can fully distinguish nations, races, tribes, ethnicities, etc….. from cultures.

Culture is generally defined as the “Pattern of Human Activity” or as they say here in America the “Way of Life”. It is important to know that several cultures can co-exist within the same country or amongst the same race or ethnical group, even if those cultures are in conflict in many aspects, as long as all follow the same established civil rules.

Having clarified that issue, I would like to discuss the two dominant cultures which exist today in the Middle East. To make this article more interesting (or less boring), I will not mention any cultures by name and let readers figure them out. My objective here is not to glorify or condemn countries or populations, but to make sure readers get a better understanding of the roots of the “Ways of Life” in the Middle East today.

As mentioned above, there are two dominant cultures in the Middle East today, whose impacts can be noticed in every country, within all races and ethnicities, and amongst those practicing all religions. One culture promotes life while the other insists on the after-life. One inscribes tolerance while the other pushes for dominance. One establishes equality of all genders, races, and faiths, while the other promotes superiority.

One culture insists on joy and celebrations, while the other seeks mourning and suffering, in quest of the promised afterlife. One understands how human life is intertwined with all other life forms be it animals and plants, while the other ….. well, the other has not evolved that far yet! One culture believes in creating good things, the other believes in taking.

One culture has devised wages for labor, while the other has yet to fully abandon slavery. One culture makes sure every child is exposed to love, the other considers love as a deterrent to roughness and toughness. One believes in ruling the hearts, the other trusts only the rule by terror.

As a result of these cultural characteristics, followers of one culture are generally peaceful, insightful, smart and kind, while those of the other culture are generally rough and dumb.

Influences of these two cultures can be sensed in every country in the Middle East and well beyond. It is of outmost importance for the world to recognize the long term ramifications of supporting the wrong culture, as they appear to have in the past couple of centuries.

In the recent past, as it appears to many of us Iranians, to maximize profits in the Middle East, certain powers in the west preferred to deal with and support the rough and dumb. We have all paid the price for that miscalculation and will pay even more dearly if we don’t change course.


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re: Joy vs. suffering

by Magen30 (not verified) on

Could the 2 cultures in the Middle East you're describing be the Muslim vs non-Muslim peoples?

I am neither Muslim, nor Middle Eastern so my reply is based on observations as an "on looking - spectator". I try not to be swayed by TV/media clips/photos etc (though I admit that is often very difficult).

I have numerous friends from the Middle East. Some of my friends ID themselves as being from a Muslim background but they do not ID themselves as being Muslim. I also have Middle Eastern acquaintances from Jewish, Christian & Zoroastrian backgrounds.

I am more impressed by the reactions of Middle Eastern people to the common every-day variety of negative situations (not war or the big stuff like that which often is multifaceted & too complicated to try to unravel during a single visitation.)

How do they react to a friend or family member that goes against the religious 'norms' or against the traditions of the family? Everyone has 'black-sheep' in their family or group. The question is how do we respond to the black-sheep? Are they less loved or appreciated? Are they still welcome at family gatherings? What do we do if our kid is rude to another kid at school that is typically from the 'other camp' (another religion/ethnic group/town/etc)?

I have often been told that the capacity of one's hospitality is measured only by their graciousness & humility as a guest. (i.e. Everyone wants to be perceived as a generous & hospitable host. That’s the fun-in-the-spot-light recognition position. However, it is not so easy being the gracious & humble guest. One cannot truly be a generous host unless they master the art of being a gracious & humble guest.... sort of like learning to be the menial worker before aspiring to be the company CEO.)

Do our actions demonstrate we value all human life, & honesty & love & reconciliation? Anyone can stand in front of a camera or audience & read a speech & say a lot of platitudes bla bla bla... (no one believes such stuff anyway.) But what does our daily behavior say about us? How do we respond to the driver who cuts us off in traffic? Or when we think our kid has been treated unfairly on the playground by that kid from ‘the other camp’? Or what about when we lose that promotion to our someone from 'the other camp'? What about when we learn our kid, who is now a young adult, has been sleeping with someone that is not from our own group/religion? I realize that whenever our kids are involved, we tend to get really emotional & usually very fast! But our actions for our children should bring out the best in us not be a source of shame that will only complicate our children’s future. Do we treat other peoples children the way we want them to treat our own children?

Given at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC by Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Thur, 3 Feb 94.
Jesus will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry & you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty & you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger & you invited me into your home. I was naked & you clothed me. I was sick & you looked after me. I was in prison & you came to visit me.' Then the righteous asked Jesus, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger looking for hospitality, or naked & in need of clothing? When did we see you sick or in prison & go to visit you?' The King replied, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these , you did for Me. But to those who rendered none of these actions, Jesus said, Depart from Me for ever more. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25: 34-46) If we remember that God loves us, & that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak (the unborn child)must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!


Devotees of rough and dumb

by Anonymous t (not verified) on

Devotees of the rough an dumb culture control the arena in the Middle East. As said, the West can bargain with them. A minority of this culture have given the power to silent a 70-million nation.


Spoiler alert!

by GuestfromtheWest (not verified) on

Great article Masoud. If I may be so bold to ask are the two cultures Iranians and Arabs? Seems like it but I could be misreading..


Yep, you're right. Now if

by AnonymousGirl (not verified) on

Yep, you're right.

Now if only Iranian can all get along instead of always hating on each other and caring about how much money other Iranians have!


Just Farahavar

by Iran Novin (not verified) on

The good culture is "Farahavar". Just Farahavar.