Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Stubbornness is a close friend of stupidity | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There is a misconception related to the principle of being “consistent in one’s positions and ideas”.

Some politicians and elite figures in our Arab World take pride in the fact that over a span of half a century they did not change their minds about some situations.

Former President of the World Psychiatric Association and highly prominent Arab psychiatrist, Dr. Ahmed Okasha, says that: “A person who does not change their ideas is – I am sorry to say– stupid. Meanwhile, a person who interacts with the changes in the real world is intelligent.”

We confuse principles with ideas.

For example, some among us might believe in human truth, goodness, beauty and tolerance. At one point in their life, they may also support socialism or capitalism. The first attributes constitute moral and humanistic principles, whereas socialism and capitalism are political ideologies.

Principles are the foundations or pillars upon which we build our lives. As for political ideologies, they are changeable molds and hypotheses that might prove over time and practical experience to be corrupt, or incapable of transforming humanistic principles into a tangible reality.

A few days ago, supporters of the Baath party in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Sudan marked its 65th anniversary. Amazingly, the party, up until this date, is yet to put any of its ideas about unification, socialism or freedom into practice. Over a span of six decades, its attempts to achieve happiness, welfare and security for the Arab population in several countries have not succeeded.

Astonishingly, the Baathist worship of “pagan ideas”, and the circumambulation of the group’s “Kaaba” in Damascus and Baghdad, still takes place despite all the catastrophes that Baathist principles have led to.

It was the concepts of revision and self-criticism that made the former Soviet Union under Gorbachev ultimately rebuild the state, the regime and society on completely different grounds.

Moreover, it was this ideology that led to the birth of progressive regimes in Brazil, Ghana, Turkey, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Peru. Through revisions and lessons learned from the past, the great leader Nelson Mandela promoted the principle of transitional justice, in order to avoid a society based on revenge between blacks and whites in South Africa.

Everything is open to revision and criticism except the Holy Book. Only such scriptures have eternal sanctity.