Contemplating in Cairo – Vol. 5

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Cairo is a very harsh city. Surviving here is like surviving in the jungle without shelter or self-defence skills. The tall grey buildings and the unbearable amounts of smoke in the air suck the life out of us day in and day out. And yet, we are expected to keep smiling.


Some of us find pride in our heritage as a nation that is tolerant and can survive through the worst. This is such a cliché that I find my stomach turning at the mere thought of… Tolerant? Please! This is not tolerance; this is weakness and submissiveness. We enjoy being led and not having to take responsibility of our lives so we just accept whatever garbage is thrown our way, just like loyal tail-wagging dogs.


Are we dogs? I thought we were humans…


But wait… Maybe I’m the one being too harsh here. Let’s look at the situation from a different angle. Are there fighters among us? Absolutely. There are writers and journalists who have strong opinions and are trying to get them out there. There are a few politicians who are trying not to be drawn into the smelly abyss of corruption. There are doctors who are constantly at war with the system that has raped them of their very basic rights as lifesavers. There are fighters in every field, meekly trying to make a difference in their personal lives and the lives of those around them.


But wait… Here comes the paradox… The fighters are being suffocated and their efforts are to no avail. The writers and the journalists are serving time in jail, not for expressing their opinions, but for having opinions to begin with. The few good politicians are unwillingly pulled into the never-ending spiral of corruption, spinning and spinning until they lose all sense of direction and have no idea what they’re fighting for anymore. And the doctors are so frustrated and disappointed that they stop believing in themselves as lifesavers and either treat medicine as a money-making cow that must be milked to death or lose all passion for the practice altogether.


So here’s a question…  With the way things are going, are we supposed to keep fighting or should we just give up? When fighting for our rights, or for a better world, or for the upheaval of our country’s status, and when we are disappointed once and again, over and over, what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to react? How can we be expected to keep smiling?


Can we just give up? SHOULD we just give up? Is that even an option?


As humans, are we meant to just live and let live? To stay quiet when we are stepped on? To support the ‘invisible hand’ that is screwing us over? Perhaps we are, because it seems to me that trials to revert this hand are failing. The hand is just too strong; too well connected.


So what kind of life would we be leading if we just let things happen? If we give up our right to change things, to accept or refuse what is being done to us? What kind of sleep would we have at night? What kind of ethics would we teach our children? Would we even be willing to bring children into such an atmosphere?


Our parents and grandparents muse at our lack of nationalism, devotion and loyalty to our own nation. They’re so damn lucky! They had a chance to be patriots, to love their country and fight wars for it. Where has the patriotism gone? And why are we; the little people, the only ones who miss it? To our forefathers I say that we are truly sorry but we have no reason or motive to be as courageous as you were. That’s why everyone and anyone is looking for a way out.


It seems that our generation is left to wonder, what are we supposed to do? Leave, live in denial or fight a war that is bound to be lost? All three options are sickening…


There’s just too much going on. On a personal level, every single person has a story to tell. On a political level, we’re being screwed over repetitively. On an economic level, we’re all living hand-to-mouth. How much energy does a person have to fight? And how do you set your priorities? What should you fight for first? And with the most strength and passion?


And, please, tell me, how on earth are we supposed to keep smiling?



31 October 2008

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