I do indeed have great respect for the people of Saudi Arabia, and their religion. But, then, I had great training from my family, where my mother was Roman Catholic, and my father a dyed in the wool Baptist. One of my best friends was a Jehovah Witness, another dear friend, Pentacostal, (I hope I spelled that right) and I went to school with those of the Jewish faith.
I started to read the Bible at an early age and had completed it in the King James version by the age of 13, and was shocked that it was so graphic. Seriously… I’d say at 14… you are telling me to read this thing? Have you? Oh, dear, what an obnoxious child I was, and after Law School, I am even more likely to read. I enjoy history, and culture, and I also have a degree in Psychology. I am particularly interested in group Psychology.
I spent my life being the “oldest” and I “oughta know better” visiting grandparents in Texas for the summer, where my grandparents referred to my dad as that “dammed yankee,” because he married my mother without their permission – as if they would have given it anyway – and when the summer was over I’d head back East with a distinct southern twang which everyone remarked upon and wondered about the south in the negative.
Back and forth I drifted between cultures at home and religions as well. I learned to listen, read, and watch, while my father taught me to respect one and all, because they were poor people, and he hunted and lived off the land to help feed the family, while also picking blue berries with the spanish, spoke fluent spanish, was top in his school, but did not have the money to go to College, and so, he joined the Navy.
I am the first to go to College, and I take all of my family genetics of wanderers who cross pollinated and find a fascination with the world as it is. My favorite subjects in the four high schools I attended were: history, and I listen to youtube and watch history channels all day and night as well as reading it.
I marvel at people, their community, and culture and I wan to know more, and I ask why, politely. So, my respect is deeply engrained with having sat at table with mother and father debating the merits of their respective religions, and lambasting the others’ while I wondered .. which to choose….
So, to meet Saudis’ as they are is no different than docking at one of my grandparents respective homes, to criticize, judge, and comment, when they struggled so hard, worked so hard, and were such good people? No, way, not even if I disagreed with their biblical accounting of things, so if I would treat my grandparents like this, why would I treat my hosts? And they are my hosts, and I am a guest, and all good guests, say please, thank you, and appreciate them for what we have in common, and do not disparage what we do not.
Now, my family, shakes their head at me and wonders why I am wandering around like this, but, I have the gift of too many wanderers in my genes and say “I come by this honestly…” and if I can make the difference in the mind of my students, colleagues, about America, and our culture, perhaps I will plant a seed that will become a mighty oak of our future international relations.
And, again, I thank you for reading my observations about Saudi Arabia, a great country with even greater people.