I woke up at noon on Thursday, and walked 10 minutes for my first visit to Starbucks. It's attached to a gas station, so isn't as spotless as most Starbucks are back home, or even the one I passed the other evening in downtown Riyadh, but it wasn't bad. I had a large glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and a nice Cappachino. Then I walked home and spent most of the rest of the day working through an Al-Jazeera interview with an Arab psychologist who was talking about the high amount of depression and mental illness in the Arab world. He described mental health as being much more than the mere absense of mental illness. He said there are four aspects of mental health: 1) the ability to cope with the pressures of life, 2) the realization that you are producing in accordance with your capability, 3) this production needs to be in accordance with your personal ambitions, 4) and you need to feel that your word counts for something in the society you live in. I was wondering how that played out in a society like this one where the opportunities for women are so limited, and even for men so many positions of leadership and influence are limited to members of particular families. He also talked about the negative effects on countries when their rulers hold on to power forever.
This morning (Friday) I walked down to a weekly talk given at the British Embassy. The room holds about 130 people, and it was packed with people from all nationalities. The speaker was an American who works at the Royal Clinic. When I went two weeks ago, they were saying the speaker wasn't there that day because he had gone to meet the King. I thought they were talking about someone who had just died, but then learned they were talking about this man. He gave a good illustration today of how when he is on duty near the King, everything depends on what the King says and does. When the King is ready to move, they move. When the King is ready to eat, they eat. When the King goes to bed, they can do the same. He said this was a good example of how we should live with God.
Now I'm back at the embassy and will head over to the snack bar for some lunch; then back to work through another Al-Jazeera interivew this afternoon about Gaza. It's of course going to be very one-sided; on the other side I was thinking the other day about how Israel is probably the only country in the history of the world that provides water and electricity to an enemy that has writen in its charter its determination to end its existence.