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Constructive Action in the Middle East

What it takes

Ajaban.com is all about promoting Constructive action in the middle east.

(We also want to promote constructive action in the "West." This starts with reflection. See the US Foreign Policy Museum on the Mall Project.)

And what does it take to promote constructive action? Quite a lot, actually.

And how are individuals empowered? Well, external factors like a stable and free government, a good, nurturing family, health and economic opportunity all help. So that needs o be addressed. But also, genuine empowerment is something that occurs within, when a person takes responsibility for their own life, liberates themselves, stands up to oppressors and becomes a force to be reckoned with,etc.

And how does this happen? What makes a person become a force of empowerment to be reckoned with? I have no idea. However, there are a lot of cool books out there that I have felt thrilled by and almost empowered by. Some of them relate to larger political economic environmental issues, others to the individual alone. Maybe they have the answers.

So you see, what I really want to do is inflict these self-help books that I found so remarkable, on my fellow Middle Easterners - well, Iranians, really. Arabs can fend for themselves (I don't speak it/can't translate).

OK, you're right. I might be entirely misguided. In some cases, people want to know "But can I make a molotov cocktail from that book? I think whatever you're going to do with that cocktail is a short term solution. I'm in it for the long haul. You do whatever, I'm going to do my little bit over here.

Here are the key books (click on the link to see reason I think they are empowering, particularly in the Iranian context.)

  • The End of Poverty (Doesn't get more empowering than this. Excellent way to look at the situation. Missing a chapter on the Middle East.)
  • The Optimistic Child
  • The Artist's Way
  • Getting Things Done
  • Guns, Germs and Steel (developing country blues - de-mystifying European success)
  • The Tipping Point
  • Built to Last (especially because of the description of Sony and their Big Hairy Audacious Goal to "change the image [around the world] of Japanese products as poor in quality.")
  • Who moved my cheese?
  • Rose Wilder's Book (because it's very flattering to Islam, but it's all about Democracy - so it's a kind of a bridge book.)
  • The Jewish Century by Yuri Slezkine (to combat anti-semitism by de-mystifying Jewish success - puts things in a fascinating perspective)
  • World on Fire by Amy Chua - Questions the promotion of democracy and market economy without addressing social and ethnic inequalities and divisiveness.
  • Nation of Cowards (to remind everyone that freedom is inalienable, but you have to stand up for it)

Oh, I hear your gurgling and grumbling. You are irate by some of my underlying assumptions as implied by my choice of books. You find this all totally naive and simplistic and think there are other far more important things to be done. Great! You go do those things. It isn't a zero sum game, you know. I'll do stuff, you'll do stuff. There are billions of people on this planet, most of them wasting their time playing violent videogames and working in dead end jobs. I'm sure you can find recruits.

So now, I just have to get permission from the authors to translate and publish in Iran. And I wonder if there are any strange laws about this because of all the embargoes. And I wonder how well these books would do in Iran, or if there would be censorship and attempts to block them, especially now that I've associated them with that evil democracy. Only one way to find out.



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