Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cheats and Guns in Jordan

Yesterday, we got to go to a nice restaurant and eat as much pasta in white sauce with mushrooms as we could muster after the sunset. Someone else was paying, which made it all the more delicious!

Then, we had a trivia game. Whichever table got the most points would win nice prizes such as: a watch that apparently costs $1000 and free dinners at the Dead Sea and all sorts of things.

Using your cell phone to look up information during the trivia game was expressly forbidden, but at my table, we had two cheats flouting the rules. Also, the man who was in charge - who was supposed to deduct points from cheating teams - saw us cheat, but didn't say anything. I think it is because his wife was at our table, and I guess he wanted us to win. Also, he was busy cheating himself. He would go off to other tables, see their answers, and then come back and share with us. And this guy is a director at the institution paying for our meal.

Except, the cheats didn't even contribute any helpful information. One question was: which four Middle-Eastern countries use the 'pound' as their currency. The cheats sat and looked it up on their phones, and then gave us the wrong answer.

I got quite huffy. If that scenario was repeated in the US, I don't think anyone would have pulled out a cell phone, because they'd know enough of their fellow team-members would object, and it would be a point of pride to play honestly. Am I being too rosy-eyed about that? I am basing this on my own experiences, and I can't remember a single instance of cheating during something as silly as a trivia game, whether in college or at work. It would just be such a shameful thing to do.

So then I started thinking: yes, this is why Arab countries are such complete failures, because cheating at a game leads to cheating in real life, and no one plays by the rules, and everyone is loyal to their family members ahead of being loyal to values like justice and truth!

I was getting ready to give everyone at the table a lecture, but then another thought occurred to me. In the US we have a lot of gun violence and innocent people get killed or massacred all the time. This also, based on the news, happens a lot in Iraq, Syria, and probably many other Middle Eastern countries, but I have not - knock wood - heard of any gun violence in Jordan while I've been here. I've just heard about people being horribly and unfairly killed in the US.

I guess someone else could think: yes, gun violence is just one thing wrong with the US, and it's a country where you're not safe and where you never know when you'll be killed just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and what can be said for a society doing such a bad job taking care of its children!

After I thought of that, I was glad I had not given everyone a lecture about their cheating.

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