My son Salman and I were in the car when he looked at me and confessed. “Baba”, he said, “I made a mistake.” Before even knowing what the mistake was, I told him that it’s ok.
“It’s not about doing mistakes, Salman. It’s about learning from your mistakes. You can do as many mistakes as you want, but you have to learn from them all. And,” I added, “sometimes you can learn the best lessons from the biggest mistakes you have ever done. But the most important thing is for you not to do them again, and again.”
Leadership, as every father should have, is about allowing people to make mistakes and encouraging them to learn from them.
Of course, everyone knows what I am writing about. We are approaching Valentines Day, the day we recognize the commemoration of our constitution, the one-year anniversary of the ‘Day of Rage’, and most importantly, Tuesday.
What I have been seeing since the publication of the BICI report is an attempt by the opposition to totally brush off the ‘learning from the mistakes’ attempt by the government and total focus, reiteration, concentration, and revitalization of the acknowledged mistakes. I won’t go into the details of the report and start the ‘he said, she said’ phenomenon, but the report clearly states that the government made mistakes, but so did the protesters, claimed and sometimes unclaimed to be lead by the opposition.
Just yesterday, I had a long talk with a friend who lives in Maqsha, where Wefaq Islamists protested for five days. He did attend all their rallies and is a forefront supporter. It all started when we were joking around about ‘Somood’, which stands for not giving up. I told him that one should have strong ‘Somood’ in order to complete a Marathon. This then began our political talk.
I asked him what he and others are trying to achieve by ‘Somood.’ He said, “As they say, to break a stone, keep on hitting, even if lightly (In Arabic).” Then I asked him why does he want to break the stone. He responded, “The government killed, tortured, fired people from their jobs, and many other bad acts.”
Then I asked him again what he would do if every single hit on the stone would end up making the stone stronger. He said, “What do you mean, and is this even possible?”
“Yes, it is,” I answered. “Here’s how,”
Wefaq et al decided when the protests began, to use the pressure by the international community to achieve its political gains internally. When Bahrain initiated the establishment of the independent commission, the international community recognized this step and acknowledged that the report will uncover the truth of the events and that the government should undertake the recommendations when they come. Wefaq et al then had to follow to accept that the commission of inquiry was indeed independent and supported this step by the government. This was the mistake they did that placed them in a very awkward position.
The government of Bahrain slowly began gaining credibility because of the honest, modest, and transparent acts they did one step after another, that began with the establishment of the commission of inquiry. Simultaneously, Wefaq et al slowly began loosing credibility because of their association with those who are evolving and becoming more violent by the day.
In addition, while journalists are loosing interests in Bahrain, research engines and think tanks are gaining interests in our country and the region as well. This is generally for reasons that have to do with growing Iranian threats. I recently invited a researcher from Washington, D.C. who, unfortunately for Wefaq, has massive experience in the region. I encouraged him to meet with Wefaq members, and he did. He told me that had he been a journalist, he’d buy into everything they said. But, what he did was walk into most of the local stores and libraries in the villages and found loads of publications that point their religious linkages to Iran and not to Iraq. He also found speeches by some Wefaq members published by AlManar, a Hezbollah publication.
While the West and the international community cherish their economies, Wefaq et al are mistakenly outspoken about targeting the Bahraini economy to twist the arms of the government, to achieve their goals. This places the nails on the coffin towards gaining sympathy from the international community. Any additional hits on the so-called stone only allow more gains of credibility to the government and less to the opposition.
What Wefaq and others should do is admit that the government is working to learn from their mistakes and is achieving a lot of progress by implementing the recommendations set forth by the independent commission. Show real leadership or loose everything.
Just imagine a father that doesn’t allow his children make any mistakes. What are then the lessons learned?