A couple days ago this story on the closing of popular Books@Café in Jordan slapped me with incredible clarity about many things I’ve been struggling with for a while. When I first read it, I thought, give me a break, that was predictable, another year of the same old confusion during Ramadan.
Then I realized this story comes shortly after this remarkable Jordanian blogger, Ajloun, calls it quits, after seemingly never ending tales of corruption revolving around public officials. This is happening in a country facing political, economic and social challenges all taking a heavy toll, with a local media in a perpetual downward spiral, and an extremely frustrated people.
Brand Jordan is bust. Brand Jordan is in the worse shape ever, it seems. And no sooner had I come to that revelation, this appeared. Country brand ranking. I’m not big on rankings, but it is some kind of gauge. So not only is brand Jordan aching from the inside, but it’s also aching out there.
Brand Jordan needs to evolve into something amazing so as to regain the trust of those who love it. Brand Jordan needs its diverse lovers to find new ways of living on common ground. Brand Jordan needs to be able to reignite compassion in everyone.
While reading the wide range of comments on Madian’s Books@Café story I realized every single one was right. Nobody was wrong. Not only was every contribution right, but each was put out there with so much passion.
So if they are all right and the passion is clearly felt, what’s the problem?
The lack of vision is the problem. Brand Jordan has failed to keep the vision alive and the lights are dimming, it fell off the track at some point. Why does that matter? Because people need a vision to be able to achieve their goals. Passion helps us define the spheres we want to be in, but a unified vision helps us see the journey. And when brand Jordan is bust, we can’t see.
This task is for everybody. Coming from diverse origins, faiths, ethnicities, classes, political affiliations, cultures, colors, ages, shapes and sizes, people in Jordan can find their places on the road forward.
Shutting down the Books@Café and the other F&B outlets around the country in a way that allows the system to abuse its own rules is the saddest low point we can get to. It does nothing but drive us to lose faith and cultivate apathy. A restaurant’s license should be honored. A rule should be respected. Common sense should prevail. Public servants should not forget that they are there to serve. Instilling fear in people should not be allowed.
If our vision includes a Jordan with special rules during Ramadan, everyone will respect that. If the vision includes business as usual twelve months a year, everyone will respect that. But when we dishonor our own rules, disrespect our own diverse society, deny its realities, we become a broken people with a broken country brand. And no matter how hard we try, how much we invest in it, how loud we shout, we will not get it right. All that happens is that we pollute the intellectual, spiritual, and physical landscape of our country.
Vision is why we are able to take on change and challenges passionately when everyone else says it’s not possible. Brand Jordan needs our help. Defining, sharing the vision for, and fixing brand Jordan must be our absolute priority. If we know where we want to go, we can better define who we need to be for the journey.
The original version of this piece is here.