Guide to the mental state of Egyptian society
Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi demonstrate against the military in Cairo on October 4, 2013. © Khaled Kamel - AFP
Guide to the mental state of Egyptian society
Last updated: November 14, 2013

Guide to the mental state of Egyptian society

Banner Icon If you're a non-Egyptian or a member of the Egyptian Diaspora and have ever wondered what this country is up to since its double uprising/coup, then look no further because here's a simple 101 on the Egyptian society's psychology.

Humor me with your imagination for a second, and visualize a man lost in limbo…drifting aimlessly, hopelessly beseeching a beam of light to sustain him in his purgatory. A simple man, who's been misled and manipulated multiple times into complete and utter bewilderment. Expectedly he will start to wonder, "Am I doomed to eternally roam this abyss? Is there no chance of salvation?" He might cry this out loud, and roaring in rage and even cursing the forces behind his downfall… But soon enough his echo will start to die out, his bellowing will seem pointless, and he slowly and submissively sinks into abdication.

This admittedly melodramatic analogy is the only possible way for a non-Egyptian resident to comprehend the country's condition – a stagnant state, fueled by doctrinal complacency and disconcert; or in layman's terms: Frustration.

If it was politically correct to classify the Egyptian community, according to current ideology, there would be three main categories

The rebellious

"An unquenched thirst to develop and evolve (in Egypt's case, occasionally coinciding with oppression) naturally progresses into defiance"     

The downside is the countless lost talents and potentials 

Unfortunately, this sector is mainly occupied by the formally oppressed and recently disheartened youth; traumatized by a dim reality after a momentary glimpse of hope post the January 25th Revolution, and lacking the subservient "domesticated" nature of their predecessors. This category opted for further mutiny – no longer against a system or government, but against the nation as an entity... against culture and tradition (whether this denouncement is called for or not is irrelevant) against social norms, religious beliefs etc... but most of all reality.

The downside is the countless lost talents and potentials, which – had they been utilized correctly – could've emerged to be great additions to the national and global community.

The perpetually, morbidly stubborn

This is the most exasperating, and stress-inducing sector, also the least productive…the type that's argumentative, determined to the point of aggravation, and often prejudiced. Trying to enter a healthy debate with this lot is simply futile, as they will always find some narrow-minded logic behind their case, and if they fail to do so, they may attempt to find fault with their contender's identity rather than their logic.

The thwarted

This category is occupied by the somewhat mentally elite, who've tried to analyze the situation from all different angles, and failed to reach a conclusive outcome. Generally these characters are reserved when it comes to personal inclinations. And through maintaining objectivity throughout a highly ambiguous and treacherous situation (let's not forget about our deceitful, unbiased, and slightly coercive media), they've ended up in obliqueness.   

These figures are further divided into three groups:

The passive: usually those who don't have a lot to lose, either due to their occupation with personal affairs that are of more importance (the older, less active range of the population) - or because they literally have nothing (no career to worry about, no prospects etc…)

The unconcerned: generally the financially stable or well-off, unaffected by the country's economic, social and political deterioration, as they live in their own gated societies, and have chosen, either voluntarily or involuntarily, to isolate themselves from the rest of the community.

And finally the Utopists and overly optimistic: these are my favorite of all of the divisions and categories; and yes it is possible to be frustrated yet hopeful. These people realize that the present may not be encouraging and that the country has a long way to go before any actual change; but they do their best, keep their fingers crossed and look for the silver lining.

These, in a nutshell, are the main notions going through the minds of our Egyptian citizens. A tug-of-war for power results in the country’s "fall from grace". And the perpetrator? Unidentifiable at this point. Authority alongside democracy doesn't seem to be one of the country's strong suits, and three successive unsuccessful systems are the biggest proof (thirty years of corruption, followed by two years of inadequacy, and finalized by the current oppression).

So is there any salvaging you may wonder?

I wouldn't lose hope just yet, but in order to achieve the slightest improvement there needs to be some serious, radical reconstruction throughout the nation. Will this happen overnight? No… Will it be easy? Not a chance… but I choose to be one of those overly optimistic folks. Awareness is on the rise throughout the country, and there are only so many times you can get burnt by broth, until you realize the problem is with the furnace…

And though some dream of the day they can step foot on another land with all its glory and wonder (where they may also be treated as second-rate citizens and occasionally outsiders, yes, deep down this is the bitter truth), reality usually has other plans in store, so don't make any bets just yet on the fate of this nation. Because the one thing Egypt can boast of - despite its many flaws - is its resilience. 

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Reham M. Omar
Reham is an Egyptian - New Zealander freelance writer and social activist. She has worked with many local and International NGOs to promote human rights and gender equality, as well as social development and reform.
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