I was reading the newspaper this morning when an unusual article grabbed my attention. It was about 30 teenagers in their school uniforms attacking two police officers after they asked a girl to pick up a piece of litter. The officers were on sick leave with bruising, bite wounds and knee injuries. This incident happened in London of course.
As mean as it might sound, I was so proud of the kids. “Well done!” was the first thing that popped into my mind. I’ve always despised how some people use their authorities to manipulate others in a very ugly way. It’s more like “I’m in control, you have to do whatever I ask you to do” behavior rather than asking people to do the right thing for their own good.
Throughout my entire life I’ve witnessed that kind of behavior in almost every stage I’ve passed. Especially in school, given the fact that I’ve been to a government school, most of our teachers came from a different type of community, a different sector, a different background. And they somehow used their position as teachers to let out their anger on some other issues on us. For example, in middle school we had a very religious science teacher, she used to pick on me every single day, asked me questions that I couldn’t answer just so I’d be standing up the whole session, and say unnecessary comments which were unrelated to what she was teaching at all, just because I was open minded and she didn’t like the way I dressed or danced during break hours.
If I open my very dusty box of school memories I’ll have to write a whole book about all what we went through. But I’ll jump to another stage now; University of Bahrain. Back then it was the only university in Bahrain, so Bahrainis had no choice if they couldn’t afford studying abroad. After studying abroad for one year, I transferred to UOB where all my friends and my whole generation were studying. I didn’t find that bad use of authority in the professors this time. Their professors were careless and useless to do that. But that behavior was STRONGLY applied in their management, their administration staff, and most importantly: the security guards. Imagine some uneducated young boys and girls who had the power to control some cool good looking boys and girls? Of course they would use that power. It’s more like a chance to take revenge. Life did not give them the chance to be a part of that “cool” community groups and they had the chance to control where those “cool people” parked their cars, what they wore and where they sat.
I once was on my way to a Maths lecture when one of those security ladies stopped me. She was pregnant, bored, annoyed, and every expression on her face expressed how much she hated her life. She literally kicked me out of the university and said: “6el3y barra3”!!!. She was claiming that my skirt was see-through. Why on earth would I wear a see-through skirt to university? Where every single Bahraini loser was. And I gave her that very angry look that spoke without me speaking: “Who do you think you are?” My eyes said !. And I told her that I am not willing to miss my lecture for a stupid reason which wasn’t even true. I walked away and left her standing in the middle of the hall way. I don’t remember what happened next, but I don’t remember seeing her face again !
In my former working place, my manager used the fact that he was in charge, or in other words, the person who had my career in his hands, to take advantage of me. He used to order me to write his MBA essays. And I couldn’t object, because me objecting meant forgetting to ask for leave. And I couldn’t even complain, because in that jungle, if you complained you were kicked out.
I was in Heathrow Airport last week leaving London to Bahrain. I was passing through the departure gate, where Anglo Indian immigration officers stood there and screamed: “ANY LIQUIDS?”. However, for the past few years there was this rule that you can’t pass that gate with more than one luggage. But this time everyone was passing with more than one, I was glad that they had cancelled the rule. I had two pieces of luggage with me, and my air sickness syrup medicine was inside one of them. I opened the luggage to put my medicine in a clear plastic bag (as required) when one of the Anglo Indian immigration officers came to me. He looked really bored and he was in the mood to fight. In Bahraini we call it “metsabbeb”. He asked: “What is this?” I said: “My medicine. Do I still have to go in with one luggage?” He said: “Yes”. His colleague gave him a confused look. And I looked around to find people passing through with more than one piece of luggage. It was then when I realized that he was playing around with me.
I was late and the lady who checked me in asked me to go to the gate immediately. So all I wanted was to get in there fast in order not to miss my flight. And for that I had to swallow my anger. He asked me to open my bag again, he saw the medicine, I took it back, I closed my bag to remember that my passport was inside and I was going to need it at that moment, I opened my bag again and he was still there giving me orders. Shockingly his Anglo Indian colleague asked him to stop it. “You’re making it harder for her.” she said. But he ignored her and asked me to put the bag in the metal basket where the bag had to fit. I did that without even raising my head or looking at his face, I was too angry to do so. The bag fit but it got stuck. He watched me as I struggled to remove my bag out of the basket and he just stood there doing nothing. I wish I could live that scene again in a movie world, where I could slap the guy and run fast through the gate without anyone stopping me. The flight got delayed anyway.
The bad use of authority is a very broad serious issue that should get more attention from authorities of all kinds. Whether it was governmental, educational, organizational, social, parental, or political authority. We are all responsible in a way to provide justice by using our powers correctly. Unfortunately, the world is full of bad ethics, and there is only one way to avoid the wrong use of authority, which is: “The right person at the right place.” Impossible isn’t it?