Any man you see in Iraq, he has a family, either the original one or the one he created. They have very little free time to sit and think. There is always some action, because everyone has a large number of children. Related to this there is the proverb that an idle mind is the devil’s playground. Everyone is running and doing something, doing things for their families, they are very busy. Their love comes first, and they give everything for it. Also, what is most important to them are respect, understanding, and good agreement between people. They also have moments when something is not done to someone, but they do not allow that feeling to spoil the way they were brought up, to respect the elders. Everything is ordered by hierarchy and no one has a problem with the fact that the older must be served by the younger.
The woman is the head of the house, she can without hesitation order her husband to, for example, iron the laundry. The man in the house is not the boss and he will obey her order. Likewise, a woman does not ask about things outside the home – children’s education, work, a man’s decisions… She must respect him in that sense. Everyone knows what their role is. A wife can tell her husband that he is stupid, but only if it is about something related to the house.
When you live in such an environment where there is a lot of respect and when someone tells you to do something, you won’t say you can’t because you’re anxious. Even if someone felt anxiety, he quickly got over it with the help of his family. No matter how bad one feels and cannot do something they are told to, they have to do it. They have no space to think. Everyone is doing something; everyone is helping someone. Likewise, everyone has at most one friend. Family is everything to them. When we look at all this, we come to the conclusion that we are allowed a lot, we are spoiled, and we have a lot of space to say “no” to authority. I notice that respect does not make a person feel bad. Another very important thing is that the pride is bigger than the fear.
On the streets, every 50 to 100 meters, there are different signs that say “Come back to yourself, God is in you”, “God protect you”, “Be good”, “Be honest” ” etc. As you walk, you are brainwashed with slogans that you are good and you simply have to become that way. There are many mosques and when the call to prayer starts, everyone spreads their carpet wherever they are at that moment and starts to pray. If you happen to be getting a haircut, the hairdresser leaves you halfway because that feeling and service to God is more important to him. It happens five times a day for five minutes and can be compared to meditation, during which a person returns to himself.
Alcohol and drugs do not exist. When I walk down the street and I mention alcohol, my brother shuts me up because it should not be talked about. People live so cleanly with their inner self, that if you don’t live like that, something is wrong with you. There are probably freaks, like everywhere, but most people live in the present. They laugh at moments that are not funny because they deal with everything and everyone, they all want to learn and progress. These are the things that set them apart from us and make them feel so much better. Their leader is God, that is, faith. It is so strong that I have no explanation for it.
There are days when gifts are given, it happens every Friday. Whoever asks you for money, you will give him as much as you can. You will make or buy something for the one who has nothing to eat. There are streets full of people cooking, where the poor come and take food. These people are generous and warm-hearted, it is instilled in them to say how they feel and what they think. They let the children scream. I was present in a situation where a child hit his head, and the parents did nothing. They waited for the child to stand up and then applauded him. They teach him that life is not a flower and that you may fall, but you will rise on your own and then you will get praised. No one grows up to be a soft person, because pride is greater than fear.
I felt very safe in Baghdad. The current situation is better than in the last 40 years. For the first time, they feel free. I felt safe because I believed that every man there was warm and good. It happened many times that they didn’t want to take my money because I was a foreigner, they wanted me to feel welcome. Everything they think, they will say and will not hide. They won’t have a secret that would make me wonder what they think of me. When something bothers them, they say. For example, if I sit with my legs crossed, my father will tell me that I must not sit like that because it is disrespectful to the family. If I had grown up in Baghdad and accepted all this, I would have been clean. Maybe this is extreme for some, but they are extremely strong and free here. No one ever feels lonely because someone is always there.