culture, not psychology
This is not “psychology” per se; it is a description of cultural differences. At the most basic level, these two cultures see the world and the place of the individual in it in very different, mutually exclusive ways.
One very big difference between Muslims and Westerners concerns their views of anger. In our Western culture, anger is generally seen as a sign of weakness and lack of control and good style.
“Style”? That must be a Danish translation issue. Nevertheless, his point is apt. Loss of control is generally seen as “Bad Form” [UK] or “un-cool” [US].
Whoever experienced the embarrassment of expressing strong anger during, for example, family dinners or at work knows that it often takes time and a conscious effort to regain one’s lost respect. We in general see it as childish and immature if people use threats and aggressive behaviour to mark their dislikes and have things their way. Instead, we see peoples’ ability to use logical arguments, to compromise, to see the situation from our opponent’s side and their knowledge of the facts, and to remain calm when challenged as clear signs of strength and authenticity.
My Muslim clients saw these normal Western social tools for negotiation during social conflicts as signs of weakness. They saw the lack of readiness to use threats and engage in a physical fight as a sign of fear.
…We Westerners see aggressiveness in people and regimes as a sign of insecurity, and therefore meet such situations with soft compassion and respect.
Like offering to “negotiate” with the Tallyban and “suppoooort” them in their goals. Neglecting to note that their “goals” are morally repugnant to us.
. Most of the Danish clients knew that anger is a “bad feeling” and that in the end there is no excuse for using threats and violence when frustrated. This view was simply part of what they were raised to think by their parents and friends and the culture they were brought up in (though they did not always manage to follow that rule in their daily life)
Small quibble, here. Westerners [sane ones] understand that feelings are information — not instructions. Anger is not a “bad feeling,” it is information that *something* is not right and, so long as we stay in rational control, it gives us energy to address that issue.
…my Muslim clients saw the use of aggression as an accepted and even often expected behaviour in conflicts. If a person does not become aggressive when criticised or insecure, it is seen as a sign of weakness and lack of ability to defend oneself and one’s honour. In Muslim culture it is expected that one is willing to sacrifice one’s personal safety to protect one’s group or whatever one represents. If a member of the group is not able to do so, there will immediately be sown doubts as to whether that member can be trusted as a useful defender of the family, ethnic group, religion, territory, etc.
Here’s an assertion that reminds me of how far from our own Values we’ve
fallen allowed ourselves to be pushed:
Becoming angry or categorizing oneself as a victim unable to defend oneself when challenged with simple questions or criticism concerning one’s way of living or one’s values is not honourable at all – at least not in Western culture.
BTNIN — on to another
misunderstanding non-comprehension issue:
The simple and natural demand for integration in our Western societies is therefore experienced by many Muslims as an unwelcome criticism of their own culture. Muslims asks themselves: “Why do we have to change our way of living to be accepted?” My professional experience is that the demands for integration are constantly fueling many resident Muslims’ feeling of being criticised and feeling enmity towards their non-Islamic surroundings.
They’re not prone to shrug and say “Their opinion of me is none of my business.” Americans in particular are more able be comfortable with the idea that others have different opinions about things. It’s a distinctly American thing from the days of the melting pot idea. EUros often see that as ‘American arrogance,’ while se see it as simple self-directedness. ["Whaaat? How could you possibly not be interested in my opinion of your Life?!?" not being arrogant at all....]
We’re more relaxed about responding to criticism of a personal choice with “Who asked you?” “What’s it to ya?” [or the more modern and softer "Thanks for sharing."]
At least we were until the Prog Social Engineering campaign took hold… BTNIN.
…What we in the West would categorize as an insecure and childish response to criticism is seen by Muslims as a fair and honourable reaction to unjust insults. My experience from working with Muslim clients is that what other people think and say about them means a lot. The combination of social acceptance of aggressive behaviour and an exceedingly fragile honour constitutes an explosive cocktail.
…the strict code of honour in Muslim culture has a tendency to create fragile and glass-like personalities in Muslim males in particular: they are constantly vigilant towards any sign of criticism.
That requires a lot of energy; being so concerned with others’ opinions of one and then having to find some way to force others to agree. Whew. I’m worn out thinking about it. No time or energy left over to, say, invent a better mouse trap.
Muslim men have a very high position in the world – according to Islam and Muslim customs. They are told from birth that as a Muslim they are better human beings in the eyes of both other Muslims and Allah. They also learn through both words and cultural traditions that they are better than Muslim women. My experience that not being allowed to and also not wanting to lose this position makes Muslim men very vulnerable: The slightest signs of weakness have to be hidden, and with the Muslim view of aggression, honour and the victim mentality, suppression of and even physical attacks upon women are often chosen as the Muslim man’s primary defence. This male insecurity is enhanced by the very free upbringing that many Muslim boys receive: They do not experience the necessary educational boundaries for the simple reason that they are boys. This upbringing without limitations does not provide the boys with the necessary sense of social behaviour and empathy, and leads them to think that they are powerful and invincible. The back side of such feelings is always insecurity and fear that somebody discovers that one is actually not as secure and capable as one is told, or pretends to be.
Being an American, I default to the “make your own decisions, do what you want” position. Unfortunately, I also see that there is no way for these two cultures to live peacefully side-by-side. There has to be some way to organize this planet so that they can “make their own decisions, do what they want” *elsewhere* while we “make our own decisions, do what we want” separate and apart from them.
There’s way way more in this piece to chew on — I’ll give ya some tidbits.