Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

A Voice in the World

Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

A Voice in the World

Article excerpt

When I lived in the Middle East I learned to adapt myself to the corporate standard of the Islamic World-IBM. The initials IBM East of Suez may be translated as: Insh'allah, Bukrah, Mubarak. Insh'allah means if God is willing. Bukrah may be translated as, something (whatever the subject under discussion happens to be) will happen tomorrow. Mubarak is the equivalent of the phrase, if we are fortunate. Insh'allah, Bukrah, Mubarak-IBM. Nine times out of ten, of course, all of the disclaimers inherent in the Arabic version of IBM meant that nothing happened at all-or at least it never happened as soon as tomorrow.

When I was living in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, I once left instructions with a plumber about repairing a leak in a bathroom faucet. I thought it would be a simple matter of replacing a washer and that certainly during the ten days that I was to be on vacation the problem would be solved. Instead, I returned to find the sinks in each of three bathrooms dismantled and lying in widely scattered bits and pieces of "esoteric plumbing mysteries" all over the floor. I brushed my teeth in the kitchen sink for the next two weeks while the plumber assured me at every sunrise, "We shall do it Madam. We shall do it Madam, Insh'allah, Bukrah, Mubarak." So under such circumstances why did I love living in the world of Islam? And why given the current apprehensions in the minds of many about the ongoing problems in that part of the world do I cherish the experiences that I have had from Morocco to Indonesia? And why would I given the opportunity chose to return?

Perhaps I'm like Nasrudin, the legendary Muslim wise fool, who was sitting in the marketplace in front of a basket of hot peppers eating one after the other. His eyes were watering and his face was red and contorted. He was obviously suffering greatly but still he continued to eat the hot peppers. Finally someone asked him why he kept eating the peppers. Nasrudin replied, "Fm looking for a sweet one."

In the midst of often chaotic experiences living in Dubai I also experienced moments of incredible joy. I'll never forget the call of the muezzin summoning the faithful to prayer-sunrise over the Persian Gulf-the breathtaking swoop of a hunting hawk-the subtle halfveiled faces of women and the few precious drops of rain I caught in a glass bowl outside my patio door.

Now I live in a small Georgia town on a lake. My usual pattern at seven or eight o'clock in the morning, weather permitting, is to take my coffee and sit out on the deck and contemplate the water. The wonderful silence, broken only occasionally by a flock of semi-tame mallard ducks and a trio of dizzy squirrels, is my gift to myself before I began my equally loved days of conversation and teaching. So as my last contribution as the Editor of this Journal I have chosen not just to write about the problems and difficulties that confront the world nor only about the issues of prenatal and perinatal psychology.

All of us are informed on a daily basis about the economic debacles in Russia, the dawn of the Euro, the latest imbroglios concerning India and Pakistan, the recalcitrance of various factions in Indonesia and the duplicity of those involved in various financial scandals. In fact never before have humans faced so many crisis all together at one time-pollution, population explosion, destruction of the ozone layer,-the list seems endless. If we then add the technological thresholds in physics, communications, artificial intelligence, evolutionary psychology, neurotheology, space technology, genetic engineering, and the revolutionary conceptual models of science, we have a volatile mixture converging at the beginning decade of this century.

Perhaps nowhere is the human mystery more paradoxical than in the difference the exists between the history of humans and humans themselves. We belong to a uniquely gifted species, as the accomplishments of those of you who are being honored here attest. …

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