How civilized are Maldivians as a People?

27 Aug

This morning I got onto the eight ten ferry from Villingili to Male’. Villingili is a satellite island of Male’, eight minutes by ferry from the capital mainland. As I boarded the ferry I had to walk down the walkway in between the two rows of benches; one to each side of the dhoni.
It is common practise that when passengers board the ferry they sit on the aisle side of the bench. The beches are kept in rows with hardly enough space in between for someone to move into the window side of the bench if someone is sitting on the aisle side. However, those boarding the ferry first are so focused on the ease of getting down the ferry as it touches the terminal, that they prefer to sit on the aisle. Some people who board the ferry later prefer to stand somewhere to avoid inconveniencing those sitting on the aisle side of benches, even when there is space in between people sitting on the benches.
I took up the subject with another friend of mine who boarded the ferry with me this morning. Both of us were sitting in the last row of benches. Half the ferry was empty then, but the aisle seats were full on all rows. My friend recalled that when he visited the US for a tour of twenty one days this year what struck him most was how concerned people were about NOT inconveniencing others; aware of their existence in relation to others. This he said was not a part of our culture.
We never thought that our actions or inactions could inconvenience others. That sense of respect was non-existent in our society. We thought: was it a fault of the education system, or that we were simply not a civilized society yet.
In my opinion, recent manifestations of our society show that we are tribal in nature.

Posted by on August 27, 2007 in Society


2 responses to “How civilized are Maldivians as a People?

  1. Mohamed

    August 27, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Cambridge Dictionary defines the word ‘ civilise’ as;
    1. to educate society so that its culture becomes more developed
    2. to improve someone’s behaviour 

    I guess we haven’t done much, yet, to become civilized ! We have just begun working on many of the civilising norms of developed societies!

  2. shawn

    August 27, 2007 at 10:06 am

    I was in the state of Karnataka, India recently. We were in a village about 200km from Bangalore where we boarded a "luxury" bus returning to the city, a six hour journey. I was with two female relatives. The bus was full and the conductor requested passengers if we could get two adjacent seats. Everyone ignored, some angrily refused. I sat with the driver, and the two girls with me had to settle for seats in different rows. One next to a boy who fondled himself for many hours. I arrived in Bangalore, hopeless and convinced that the Third World will remain poor, uncivilized, and barbaric. We shall continue to suffer the malodorous company of our people. And the only hope for us as individuals is that we have the health, wealth and ability to trample on our fellow citizens and get as far in life as we can.

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