Huh? (Be prepared. This is a mini rant on my own ignorance)
So. The Qatar Foundation has a marketing campaign called Think (“unlocking human potential” is the theme). Immediately I thought I would be re-writing my Nigeria re-branding rant using Qatar as an example. Qatar? Open minded? Schools for fresh ideas? C’mon. It’s a Muslim country.
Uh oh. There’s that damn ignorance popping its head up again.
So I did some searching.
First. Idiot that I am, I needed a map to even be sure where Qatar is. Kind of slightly embarrassing.
Second. Yes. Qatar is an Arab emirate, primarily Muslim, on the northeasterly coast of the Arabian Peninsula bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south; otherwise surrounded by the Persian Gulf.
Here’s the deal. They have an incredible 83% literacy rate. (depending on the numbers you use…USA has an 86% literacy rate). The Qatar Academy, member of Qatar Foundation, recently welcomed leading UK children’s poet and author Nick Toczek to give a presentation of his poetry. Ok. I didn’t expect that either.
Ignorance is a scary thing.
The fact I couldn’t mentally pinpoint Qatar on a map without a physical one is scary. The fact for some odd reason my knee jerk reaction to this advertisement was “wow, how open minded for a Muslim country.”
Scary reminder for me how much I don’t know.
It reminds me that the biggest war being fought is not in Afghanistan, Africa or Israel. It is within the individual. It is the war against ignorance. What I know could probably fit in a thimble.
The sooner all of us recognize that (excluding the people who aren’t that ignorant) the sooner we may have a chance globally.
Ignorance is debilitating.
Conversely, curiosity is surprisingly energizing.
It facilitates debate and dialogue and yes sometimes conflict.
We need to remind ourselves that possibly the two greatest libraries in the history of the world resided in Muslim geography – Alexandria and Cordoba (yup. Muslims controlled the majority of Spain for several hundred years…and they had an open society inclusive of Christians and Jews).
I am not defending the religion of Islam (because I honestly don’t care what an individual’s religion is). What I am fighting is ignorance.
So. Here’s the deal. I am using Qatar as an example of perception versus reality. And the fact my ignorance almost made me look quite silly. Thank God curiosity came to save the day.
In the end I guess, despite the fact I just conducted a rant on my own ignorance, this little learning on Qatar has reminded me of three things:
I need a world atlas
90 percent of Muslims (ok, a big number) are not extremists and have always been students of knowledge
Never trust perception (seek reality). Or maybe better said…Always trust Curiosity.