When growing up in a radical, imperialistic community such as Egypt you are cradled into a set of socio-standards and faux-pas.
A few of which are:
Embrace all that is obsolete,
If others do it; then it's ok,
The only case in which the national headlines are important is if they include a politician, actor, or sports event; however, if it's related to the environment, history or education – God forbid – then you might as well use it as toilet paper.
And my personal favorite: you have to fit into a category…you're either liberal, religious, funny, serious, laid back or hardworking etc. The idea of "moderation" by default goes over the majority of Egyptian heads.
A recent study of educational quality across the globe, ranked Egypt number 140 in public education and a whopping last place in elementary education. The shocker, believe it or not, was not the revelation in itself, but the little amount of buzz which it received. The survey went completely unnoticed, while on the other hand, the recent dubbing of a notorious public figure and entertainer as "mother of the year" managed to entice a national upheaval.
All under the pretext of "National pride", the same pride that condones multiple other less than favorable acts, such as the sexual harassment of university students on campus, as well as recent declarations of our commander in chief that he's willing to "forfeit" the wellbeing of our generation for the sake of the ones to come.
"Perhaps it will never change and perhaps our dark times are only going to get worse, but perhaps from the ashes of our downfall will rise a phoenix to take us to a higher ground after all"
And that's just the tip of the iceberg; if you overlook the unemployment rate, elevated by the "nepotism factor" currently governing corporations and destroying the prospects of young graduates, as well as multiple other internal adversities. Yes, then, corruption has reached its peak.
Truth of the matter is, the priorities of this nation have become a blur, subject to mainstream inclination, rather than morality, logic, or even common sense.
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This leaves us with the "outsiders"; expats, world travelers, dual citizens, or just plain perversions of the system, who are unfortunate enough to be punctual for their appointments, professional at their work, and direct with their intentions. Where do they fit in all the mayhem?
Well, a lot of them don't, and ultimately find themselves either running for the doorway, or slowly sinking into submission. As a friend recently told me during a political debate: "the code to surviving Egypt is to be unconcerned, live unreflective, and unobservant and you'll be just fine."
That same friend continued describing how scrutinizing the economic or social deterioration lead numerous acquaintances into paranoia, and in some cases suicidal tendencies, and finished off his speech with his preposition for a solution: "what we need is a genocide, similar to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, something to fundamentally alter the infrastructure of this country; and be a wake up call for those who survive."
I wasn't so shocked at his revelation as much as I was by the consenting nods and reflective moments of silence that surrounded the table afterward.
Public morale is at an all-time low, especially within the age group of twenty to thirty something:
1. With the most basic of human rights being prohibited from well-educated, middle-class young men and women, it's no wonder that they'll resort to extreme alternatives.
2. ...add to this that the majority of the country's political opinions are being formed or at least swayed by a cynical comedian known for his exaggerated reactions, and recently indicted with plagiarism, as well as an overly dramatic army general who stated citizens to be "the light to his eyesight" (what next, the peaches to his cream?).
Well, there's no knowing where we're heading next. Some would claim to the abyss, while those who're still reluctant to forsake nationalistic illusions of political grandeur and past glory would deem this a roadblock on our way towards a full recovery.
Which leads us back to the third group; the ones suffering from "hermit syndrome", where do we place them on the map? I won't be so optimistic to claim that they're the ones truly capable of change, especially since the current condition suggests this to be wishful thinking. But let's just say that when your judgment is no longer clouded by dogma, fanaticism, or the wide-eyed impulse to find a villain and hero in every situation…well maybe then you can actually take rational, calculated steps toward a better future.
Perhaps our national culture is what identifies us, perhaps it will never change and perhaps our dark times are only going to get worse, but perhaps from the ashes of our downfall will rise a phoenix to take us to a higher ground after all. A genocide doesn't have to be literal to have an impact.
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