It continues to catch me off guard: how little respect is given to independence and choice in Saudi Arabia. How vulnerable the individuals are to the intrusion of others beyond their immediate family members on how they should dress, behave, and go about their daily life. When subjected to such intrusion, I try to read it as good will. At other times, I take it as opinion. Yet upon its recurence, I had to face myself with two things:
1- That I am irritable to interferrence relating to choice and family, and should be as upfront about it with as a person who is at liberty to voice their criticism or, worse, act upon it.
2- That the practice of interfering is the result of habit rather than an actual opinion, belief, bad intentions or even good will!
As much as there's cement on the houses of Saudi, as little personal walls there are to shield families and individuals from intruders. If we were to claim that the attempt to signal independence begins with children from as early as toddlers, who demand to choose their food and name the bad words, and that the demand for independence climaxes at teenagers who cave in with too much temperament--such a wholesome process cannot be fully realized in Saudi!
It is absolutely difficult for families to bear lending their name and "face" to children who would readily behave in unacceptable ways; ways which would put the family face to face with intruders? How can the flagship of the family be given to a child who is yet to do wrong before doing what is acceptable to the collective society? If the family holding up in the face of the winds does not approve with much of the choices a teenage is experamenting with, how could they defend or stand up to him to begin with?
The growth process for much of the individuals in Saudi, in my opinion, suffers from such consequences. Families cannot bear the intrusion involved with allowing their children to develop their independence. The range of developing independence, exploring choices, realization of right and wrong, shifts, as a result, from teenagehood to adulthood if not to the grave.
Communities in Saudi might still be at the very early stages of development. Not too long ago did families of three and four live under the same roof. Husbands, wives and children shared the same bedroom. A tribe of wives washed away the dishes and cooked shoulder to shoulder. Independence would have convincingly been a threat to the well-being of the community back then. If such a life-style continued up until the previous generation, how long will it take to erect walls for a nuclear-family, let alone..the individual?