13 January 2006

A Modest Proposal on Reforming the Handling of Pilgrims

Upon reading this at Dilbert.Blog (h/t to LGF)

I have some thoughts upon the reform of the annual Hajj. Travel to The Holy City of Makkah, the holiest of holies for those who submit to the will of Allah, is religious obligation given the health and the means of the pilgrim. That duty should not come at the price of hundreds or even thousands of lives of the pilgrims each year. Though they may ascend to heaven directly by falling on sanctified ground, it nevertheless seems like a needless (though Allah in his infinite wisdom must view things otherwise) spilling of the blood of the faithful. Events with tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands happen in the west, like New Year's Eve in Time Square, and the fatality rate is zero, or near enough zero as to be negligible. What does Time Square have that Makkah does not.

The Disney Corporation.

Say what you will about the company that bears Uncle Walt's name, one thing that has been consistent throughout their history as managers of resorts, destinations and events is that they know how to manage large crowds of people wishing to attend a finite number of events in a short amount of time.

Let them handle the comfort, lodging, ticketing, queuing, organizing, and movement of the pilgrims. Events like the stoning of Satan will move like clockwork and not result in bloodshed if the imagineers at Disney were given sway over the events.

The Saudi government can subsidize Disney's efforts, just fork over the money and get out of their way. Disney can be respectful, employ only the devout, offer signage, audio and visual instructions in many tongues, and do so with the cheerful grace and presence that everyone expects from Disney cast members (so long as they avoid recruiting from Euro Disney, there's no power on Earth that can prevent the French from being rude). Rather than cast members, Disney Makkah employees should be referred to as 'helpful supplicants' and would smoothe the paths of all invited pilgrims, from the poorest Bangladeshi who manages to reach his life long goal of visiting Makkah with the savings of a lifetime, to the richest Bosnian Basketball player who travels to Makkah to boost his PR.

That would be the other reform, ticket everything. have reasonable limits on people's movement in and out of Makkah, but do so without charge and set up massive hotels and complexes in the desert around Makkah to placate, house and feed the pilgrims as they WAIT THEIR TURN to perform their prescribed religious duties at the holy sites.

As a non-muslim, yet one who views the Religion of Peace with the utmost respect, my suggestion isn't meant to make light of this duty, but to simply suggest that vasts crowds that can arrive in the desert due to modern conveyances, must be afforded the comforts and the safety that the premier commercial organizer of groups of people can provide. Not to do so would be a deriliction of the duty to protect the pilgrims that Allah in his infinite wisdom saw fit to leave up to the Saudi princes.

I say it's the right time that the holiest place on earth should enjoy the organizing brilliance of those that brought to us The Happiest Place on Earth!

(image of painting, titled Disneyland 50th Annversary taken from the website of Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery of Central Massachusetts)

(If I'm to be damned for this post, it will surely be for that Kinkade)


Pooh said...

You possess a singular, very worrying, form of genius...

XWL said...


(and I do apologize about that Kinkade)

(I'm almost, (almost), hopeful that they'll ask me to take it off as an infringement)

(and is it obvious why I choose to anonyblog?)

(if I blogged under my own name, and thought it carried weight, I would have joined the petition, but as it is, I'll just admire their resolve for staking a public position on the matter)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Another analogous event: the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II brought MILLIONS to Vatican City. You can bet if there had been any trampling deaths we'd have heard of them by now.

I think it goes to the perceived value of the individual's life versus their afterlife.

XWL said...

I thought about mentioning that, excellent point Ruth Anne (especially since I agree), but Disney wasn't involved, and suggesting that the Roman Catholic church manage the Hajj might be controversial.






(I know, I know, as if suggesting Disney wouldn't be)

benning said...

Hey! I like Kinkade. Not as much as Maxfield Parrish, but he does have his moments.

I still wonder what a Neutron device atop the rock would do. Would all those pilgrims go to Paradise?