Sunday, September 30, 2012


(Borderline pointless. Random thoughts. Slow day at work.)
People have been divided into various classifications by professionals and experts, since time immemorial. The classification that has always resonated with me is this one:

Men are four:

·         There is he who knows and knows that he knows; this is a scholar, so know him.

·         Then, there is he who knows but does not know he knows, he is absentminded, so “rouse” him.

·         There is he who does not know and knows he does not know, he is ignorant, so teach him.

·         Then, there is he who does not know and does not know that he does not know, this man is a fool, so avoid him.

The above is my personal translation of the following Arabic text. I wish I could acknowledge the source but Bing and Google have failed me (as they invariably do when it comes to Arabic references).
الرجال اربعة:
هناك من يعلم و يعلم انه يعلم، ذلك عالم فأعرفوه.
هناك من يعلم و لا يعلم انه لا يعلم، ذلك غافل فأيقظوه.
هناك من لا يعلم و يعلم انه لا يعلم، ذلك جاهل فعلموه.
و هناك من لا يعلم و لا يعلم انه لا يعلم، ذلك مائق (احمق) فاجتنبوه.

I find truth in these categories when dealing with people. You can deal with anyone in the world, but the one that does not know that he does not know, I have found in my experience to be most difficult.
Of course, this classification applies to men and women, as the use of “Men” is no more sexist than the use of “mankind” in common texts.
When people say, they don’t tolerate fools lightly, you can’t blame them. I get a little annoyed when it is said by fools, but, as shown above, there is a Fool Hierarchy Pyramid, where every level looks down on the next. In the irony of the world, the Fool Hierarchy Pyramid is almost the mirror image of the Organization Chart in many institutions and governments. Hence, a likely scenario is the homeless person by the side of the road dispensing wisdom as the Fool locks his doors, rolls up his windows and pretends not to see him.
What saddens me in Sudan is that scholars are neither recognized nor appreciated. In our country fools live long and prosper. They are rewarded, they are glorified.

Our teachers are humiliated, and our failures memorialized and if they ever get around to dying they are immortalized.

It is frustrating to see the worthy demeaned, subject to the rule of the idiot. Forced to sit and listen to outlandish speeches, claims, statements – occasionally called on to applaud and pledge allegiance.

The learned Sudanese is left with two options, to ignore the noise and try to keep living his or her life, or to try to reason with the nonsense, and you don’t get any points figuring out where that leads. Exactly. Nowhere.

One is left frustrated. Anyone will tell you that life is not fair, live with it. But when it comes to Sudan, life not only is not fair, but life is downright surreal. You are in the passenger seat and constantly amazed by the world that surrounds you, but not in a good way.

A select few have broken away from the pack. They have decided to neither ignore nor reason. They have moved out of the passenger seat. Although they cannot control their destiny, they do not sit back and await their fate. I applaud the effort of the civil societies of Sudan who come up against double resistance. The resistance of overcoming the obstacles that stand between them and their goals, and the obstacles that are hurled at them from an incompetent government, that as the saying goes, won’t crap or get off the pot.

These are the people who refuse to be broken. They refuse to become bitter; refuse to accept defeat. They seek, and they find. They plan and they execute. They care and they share. They DO, where most people don’t.

And in spite of everything they face, instead of these people being honored, we find them attacked, slandered and demonized. If they were the type, they would let this drag them down, but their souls are pure and they brush off the nonsense and raise themselves higher.

If we return to the original statement that men are four, I must admit that I don’t know where to put these people, my personal heroes. I look up to them and I am inspired by them. I try to emulate their kindness, their charity, their stoicism, their accomplishments. But I am not them.

Shakespeare said,
“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

These Sudanese civil heroes are great. They give us hope for a better Sudan, a better future, a better citizenry of a better society.

When I am engulfed by despair, I think of them and I know that, as they always say, “Tomorrow is a better day”.
*Dedicated to the people of Sadagaat and Deil Ahali and the freedom fighter, Nazim Sirag.