If You Change What You're Looking For, It'll Change What You See

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Riaz Patel, detailing a recent trip to Saudi Arabia just 14 days after visiting Alaska in search of the truth.

On the final afternoon of my visit to Saudi Arabia, I was standing on the edge of a red-stone cliff, squinting at the rippling, orange sun as it dipped past the vastness of the desert. I took a deep breath as the strangest thought came to mind:

“This place totally reminds me of Ketchikan, Alaska.”

The weirder part is that it really did (despite a sixty-degree temperature difference). So, please allow me to explain:

I’d been invited to Saudi to see a variety of programs recently launched on behalf of women’s rights & equality. The work lined up with so many of my own transformative shows and projects, so I happily accepted. But in the weeks leading up to the trip, I had many conversations with family and friends who were deeply concerned for my safety. That as a Muslim who was Google-ably gay, I was endangering myself - or even walking into a trap. That as a new parent, I was being reckless. I did not agree but when people say the same thing to you time and time again, it chips away at your conviction.

As a Muslim, I already had a vague personal frustration with Saudi Arabia. The reputation of their hardline religious zealots had been a part of giving Islam a bad name, worldwide. In most arguments about how backwards the Islamic world is, the “Women-Can’t-Show-Their Faces-Or-Drive-in-Saudi” argument is always a crowd-favorite. And impossible to refute.

But as I boarded my thirteen-hour flight, I made a very specific choice: I was going to make a conscious effort to see their world through THEIR eyes, not mine. What do they want and need, rather than what I thought they wanted and needed? Upon landing, I was determined to see as honest and accurate a version of Saudi Arabia as I could find. So, I spent the next three days keenly scanning places, faces, and even conversations for truth and authenticity.

I spoke with women (I’d say approximately half the women are unveiled around Riyadh) about how much more relaxed life has become since the religious police no longer have the authority to make arrests. I even chatted with one about her experiences going to “house parties” and dating on Tinder (seriously). I sipped tea with four old men in the bazaar and discussed their very real fears of Isis, many that mirror our own here in America. I had dinner with a brilliant psychologist who excitedly discussed the growing acceptance of the therapeutic process among her Muslim patients. And whenever the topic of children came up (which it did often) being out of “in-the-closet” practice, I would reference my husband and register shock that it didn’t impact the cooing over baby photos in the slightest. Time after time, I saw and experienced things that were both impressive and unexpected.

But the thing that impressed me the most in Saudi Arabia – more striking than even the spectrum of colors found in a desert sunset – I discovered next to the cereal section of a large grocery store chain in Riyadh. It was there that I found a version of feminism that was so dedicated and focused that is dazzled me with its surging hope and progress.

In the shadow of a towering stack of cornflake boxes, I spoke with a woman, fully-veiled, about her new - and very first - job. Gushing excitedly through bright eyes, I learned how only a few months’ prior her family had shown resistance when she expressed she wanted to attend a job-training & life-skills workshop. But she went anyway. I learned how when she was hired as a cashier, she used to pass notes to her manager because she was too nervous to ask questions with her own voice out loud. But still she showed up every day. I learned how her long-term goal is a PhD so she can lecture at the University and teach women. And she’s already enrolled in classes.

Now if you look at the photo of us chatting away, the veil is shocking. It’s not something I believed in or am comfortable with. But I have to remember that’s just something she wears. It’s not who she is. Please focus on the woman and not what she is wearing. You’re

looking at a “snapshot” of a human being’s existence and seeing only one aspect. And it’s certainly not enough information to judge her

life and choices.

Is her enthusiastic, giggly version of Feminism to be discounted because of her attire? Is her forward momentum to be overlooked

because her “starting point” feels so far behind what we think is acceptable? Should her achievements get any less support or

admiration because she’s Saudi and her individuality is lost on our eyes in a sea of black cloth?

Now look at the photo a different way. How rare it is to meet someone who has not only transformed their entire life, but also the future potential of multiple generations in less than one year? That is what you are looking at. She has created a new life. All she needed was the legal right, and a little help, to begin. What I was amazed by was this woman’s commitment to do the hard and exhausting work that

accompanies change. Each and every day. That ensures the changes are real and lasting - not just symbolic.

I thought a lot about the difference between participating in the work a country needs to move forward versus “symbolic activism.” And on my flight home I thought about the despondence here at home, particularly among women, still reeling from the blow of the Clinton loss a few weeks prior. It’s almost like the news cycles have created a strange, soul-crushing addition to “misery porn” as so many people

confuse “participation” in their world with complaining or posting/re-posting their anger. But that habit actually works counter to the goal of real progress because it removes the most powerful motivation: Hope.

If we are scared or worried about what the next four years will bring, these Saudi women have taught me it’s up to us to make sure it’ll be ok. We’re spending most of our time and energy panicking over what can happen and not what we will make sure does happen. When did we become so powerless? Let me tell you I just met a woman who used to be powerless only until recently, and she wasn't wasting any additional energy complaining about it. Because she has the drive of a Hope that comes from knowing you are already moving past where you are now and allowing change – at whatever momentum – to inspire rather than dishearten. Progress takes time and work and by not acknowledging or even noticing impressive change in places like Saudi Arabia, we turn our back on points of personal inspiration and the hope we so desperately need now.

If we seek confirmation when we think the worst about people, we will always find it. But the same is true when we notice and acknowledge their progress – we see the best and the brightest from people. Which I did.

Now back to the cliff in the desert at sunset. As I sipped my rose tea with a small group of locals, I thought about the difference between what I expected to see in Saudi and what I did see. How did I not know about ANY of their steps forward as a nation? Not one? Not even the curtailing of the all-menacing religious police? And I am the type of progressive Muslim who specifically searches for stories

of any type of hope coming out of the Islamic world, especially Saudi.

The answer that was relayed to me time and time again – not with anger, but more with resignation –

was:

No one wants to tell that story.

Now where did I just hear those EXACT sentiments before? A group of people saying that they’re tired that no one sees them for who they really are. That all stories about them focus on the worst. That all the stories are the same.

In Alaska. Just fourteen days prior. A trip I had made the week before the US election to get to know more about who the “They” were that were supporting Trump. A “They” completely outside of my own Echo Chamber. It was during that experience that I discovered, in conversation after conversation, how rural Trump supporters shared the exact same sentiments when discussing their frustration with the

way Others (Liberals & mainstream media) saw them (deplorable), thought of them (racists), and most importantly, FELT about them (contempt).

And so what I discovered in Alaska as I tasted my first sip of salmon-infused vodka was confirmed when I tried rose tea for the first time in Saudi Arabia: the ongoing and disturbing trend to vilify those with whom we don’t agree. In totality. It’s no longer ok to “agree to disagree.” Now we “disagree without even trying to agree” as both the rural Alaskans and Saudis had just pointed out.

I smiled when I thought of hosting the world’s first Half-Alaskan/Half-Saudi dinner party where all the different people I had recently met would sit around the table – Nicole & Seema, Jim & Jamal, Heidi & Reem, etc. – and we’d all laugh about how bizarre it was I would meet two completely different groups of people within two weeks, from two completely opposite sides of the planet, and they would both feel and want the exact same thing at the exact same point in history: To no longer be judged, invalidated, and dismissed. How wonderful would that type of comradery and support feel around the table, especially coming from such unlikely sources?

Actually, I know exactly how it would feel. I received such a gracious invitation from Glenn Beck a few months back. Who would think the two of us would sit down and not only like each other so much, but realize we share common ground on just about everything. We are in unprecedented times, neighbors. Let’s look at things a little differently.

When did regions of the world become sterile, faceless labels and not the collection of individuals with their individual hopes, worries, and dreams? Isn’t that what they really are? There is no one Trump voter. There is no one Saudi Woman. There is no one Conservative. There is no one Muslim. In the exact same way that none of us should be vilified for our most personal beliefs and doing what we feel

is best for our families, I don’t think any of us can vilify the veiled, female grocery cashier – or millions like her – who are doing the work necessary to move themselves and their nations to a place they believe is better.

They are leaping forward. We need to dig in together to try and keep from slipping backwards.

We just have to choose to be Hopeful. And get to Work.

CNN reporter Jim Acosta was confronted at CPAC by The Federalist reporter David Marcus with a valid question: "When are you guys going to start covering Cuomo?" His answer — or, really, lack of an answer — perfectly demonstrates why he was earlier surrounded by CPAC attendees chanting, "CNN sucks!"

On the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Tuesday, Glenn and producer Stu Burguiere react to a video clip of the exchange with Acosta, as well as the mainstream media's double standards when it comes to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Watch the video below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Glenn Beck can't help but wonder, "What is wrong with us?" in light of the Left's latest move — canceling six Dr. Seuss books due to "hurtful and wrong" illustrations — that takes America one step closer to complete insanity. And now, school districts are jumping on board after President Joe Biden seems to have dropped Dr. Seuss from the White House's annual "Read Across America Day" proclamation.

On the radio program Tuesday, Glenn argued that deleting books is the perfect example of fascism, and asked when we as a country will finally realize it.

"They are banning Dr. Seuss books. How much more do you need to see before all of America wakes up? ... This is fascism!" Glenn said. "We don't destroy books. What is wrong with us, America?"

Watch the video below to hear more from Glenn:


Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Former Democratic presidential candidate and Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard and Glenn Beck don't agree much on policy, but they're in lockstep on principles.

On "The Glenn Beck Podcast" this week, Tulsi spoke with Glenn about one of her last acts in Congress, introducing the "Protect Women's Sports Act," which she says would "strengthen, clarify, and uphold the intent of Title IX to provide a level playing field for girls and women in sports." But since then, the Biden administration has gone in the opposite direction, and has supported allowing biological men to compete in women's sports.

Watch the video clip below to hear why Tulsi took a stand for female athletes:


Watch the full interview with Tulsi Gabbard here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Later this week, former President Trump will attend CPAC and give his first major policy appearance since leaving office. Sources close to the President reveal he will focus on "the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement."

The future of the GOP is a question that demands real discussion before elections in 2022 and 2024. Right now, I can see three possible answers for how you act:

  1. Those in power and senior positions will ignore the reasons behind Donald Trump winning in 2016. They will be vindicated in their minds because they outlasted him, as they view DC as a job for life. These leaders will go back to business as usual and seek forgiveness from the left, hoping for unity and acceptance in the future.
  2. The second outcome is another section of the party that is understandably very angry over the left's Presidents treatment. They still support and believe in Trump. They think it's time to take off the gloves and treat Biden/the left exactly how they treated Trump.
  3. The few policy positions offered in public will be centered solely around opposing the left. They will also make the case how the left suck, are dangerous, and how you need them in power. The next four years are merely a countdown for Trump to run again and right the wrong of 2020.
  4. The third outcome is very similar to the second, but with one key difference. While they appreciate everything Trump accomplished while in office, they feel it's time to unite behind another candidate.
Question

Which of these three positions will work best for the American people? Which helps built a political base for elections in both 2022 and 2024?

If you seek to help save America, it is critical to do some soul searching. Whether you love or hate him, Donald Trump got 75 million votes and made advancements in key demographics. What did he do well that you can develop further? In what areas was he poor, and how can you improve?

I want to raise six principled points everyone on the right should be forced to consider in the run-up to 2024.

1 - Understanding American Exceptionalism

FACT: America is an exceptional nation. If you read enough of world history, you will find ample evidence that America acted in ways that made it unique and significantly different from other countries in the past and modern times. These reasons must be understood and promoted through the culture and body politic.

One of those reasons is the layout of your Declaration of Independence. If you look around politics today, you will see people on all political sides telling you what they hate, why the other side is the enemy, and how they must be defeated.

In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson also made that case against the English when he listed 27 grievances against the King. So how is the layout key? It took Jefferson 357 words to get to those grievances. Your Declaration is your mission statement: it tells everyone in the world what America aspires to be. It states the belief that all were created equal, all had certain rights that come directly from God, and that it is the government's job to protect rights -- not give people rights.

The left is successfully painting everyone on the right to be a terrorist who enjoyed the Capitol Hill riots. If you ever want to win another election, it will be critical to explain what you stand for to the American people.

After all, ask yourself which makes you the most passionate to vote - removing someone from office or voting for a vision and change you believe in?

2 - The Constitution

Is there a better place to start this vision than the Constitution? Yes, it is mostly ignored today by those in power and is only referenced by politicians and media when it fits a narrative.

The Constitution is a beautiful and complex document but is primarily based on a straightforward principle. The government should be extremely limited in its power, but it should be as close to the people as possible where there is a clear need for government. Who can argue with this principle?

Who wants someone they have never met, dictating how they live their life?

This is why the Constitution grants the President no real power, and gives Congress 18 clauses of power, listed under Article 1, Section 8. Any and every power not mentioned there belongs at the state level.

3 - Finances

The power structure in DC has changed many times over the last twenty years, with both parties having the opportunity to rule the different federal branches. There have been two periods where one party controlled all the power in DC:

  • 2008-2010: Obama / Dem
  • 2016-2018: Trump / GOP

Despite these changes, your government continually grows, you continue to spend money you don't have, and in ten out of the last thirteen years, you have added over $1,000,000,000,000 to your national debt, which now sits just under $28 trillion. Does this seem sustainable to you? Of course not, but sadly your finances only get worse.

America has revenue of over $3.2 trillion every year, yet DC has not passed a budget since 2008. Can you imagine any business running that way? Do you think Apple, Amazon, or Disney have a budget? It is time to get America on a path to financial sustainability, work towards a balanced budget, and explain to the American people how you will achieve it.

4 - Taxes

Do you remember discussing taxes during the Tea Party?

We used to make the simple moral case to the American people: any money you earn is yours, you should use it to plan your life, and the government has no right to take it from you. This was so successful around 2012 that Herman Cain ran for President with one primary policy: the 9-9-9 plan.

If America is to return to prosperity after Covid, lower taxes and a simpler tax code must be a central theme.

5 - Cutting Government

Look at the size of the US government in 2021. Are you happy? Can you name the numerous departments? Is it now the freedom-loving Americans' position that agencies like Education, Energy, EPA, and Commerce are constitutional bodies of government and are well-run?

How about the IRS, which targeted Tea-Party groups under President Obama? Do they deserve support, or is it time to start sharing a vision of the departments that should be abolished?

This principle used to be a big part of the Conservative platform. It played a massive role in 2012 when Rick Perry ran for President. His campaign was destroyed in 45 short seconds when he could not remember the three agencies he would abolish.

Maybe it's time to refresh this debate but change the parameters. How about we discuss the agencies that should be kept?

6 - Bill of Rights

Today, the Bill of Rights is under constant attack. The far-left/woke mob hates free speech, and they seek to cancel anyone with an opposing view. However, the attacks on the Bill of Rights don't always come from the left.

America has a second amendment that guarantees you the right to bear arms. The last time the GOP held both houses of Congress and the Presidency, they banned bump stocks - but who really NEEDS a bump stock?

As the years have passed, some have admitted they are open to red flag laws. Is this still the case?

While the second amendment may be under attack, it is clear the fourth amendment is dead. Regardless of which party holds power in DC, the NSA is given continuous ability to spy on Americans. The simple, principled case from Rand Paul of "get a warrant" always falls on deaf ears.

The Bill of Rights should be a unifying document for most Americans, as the principles are self-evident and a significant part of any freedom platform going forward.

Conclusion

America will face significant challenges over the coming years. As the government continues to grow, the far left get more hostile, and central planners seek a great reset. If you share my concern, then now is the time to forget our tribes and ignore the debate on who should be President in 2024.

It's time to work hard to build a platform by raising a banner of bold colors, not pale pastels. We must share a clear vision to the American people of a bright future where they are free, prosperous, and can pursue their happiness.

When the platform is built and successful, people can identify the best candidate to run in 2024.

"First, you win the argument, and then you win the election." — Margaret Thatcher

Jonathon Dunne is a keynote speaker, weekly podcast host on Blaze Media, and published author on major platforms such as The Blaze, Glenn Beck, Libertarian Republic, Western Journalism, and Constitution. Since 2012, he has reached millions with his message of American exceptionalism.

You can find him on social media – Facebook, Twitter, MeWe