Friday, May 03, 2013

An Arab Citizen Speaks On Gaining Wisdom

Ten years ago I began writing this blog in response to all the questions friends abroad (meaning outside Egypt, for me) kept writing to me wondering how I could live in this terrible country that they were seeing portrayed in the media, a country of hate-filled terrorists and violent people. Obviously, to me at least, there was something seriously wrong with the information available to the world  if this was what my friends were seeing. I searched the internet for information that wasn't just dry facts and figures, something to show that Egyptians were, in essence, just like everyone else in the world, people with hopes, dreams, fears, problems, and solutions. I didn't really find much so in an act of utter hubris I began writing this myself.

In 2003, I was a recent widow, the lost wife of one of Egypt's more important (albeit by family plan lesser known) business figures, who was coping with a monstrous job of sorting out my late husband's estate and businesses that were in a pretty godawful state partly through the monumental incompetence of Egyptian banking and partly through his amazing ability to surround himself with people he considered friends who were, in fact, anything but. Mubarak was in power still and we were quite used to the fact that our phones were, and always had been, tapped. As a non-citizen, I was very careful not to discuss politics. In the first place, I felt that this was not my place and that the young bloggers who were appearing rapidly could do a much better job than I could. And more importantly, talking about Egypt's political problems, which were many, was not my goal. Letting the outside world see that Egyptians were "just folks like us" was my goal. So my blog was very much a special niche.

As time has gone on and changes have happened in Egypt, I have become more political just as virtually every other person in Egypt has. I'm less likely to hide my political feelings these days, but I must admit to a lethargy when it comes to posting to my blog. So much is happening here now, that many times I simply feel overwhelmed and I'm trying to find a way to deal with this as far as my blog goes. One of the things that I want to do with my blog is to take the opportunity to let my readers meet some of the wonderful young people who are doing much to try to create a new Egypt, and to this end I will occasionally present links to their blogs. I heartily recommend that you take the time to read these posts.

Bassem Sabry is one of my favourite bloggers/journalists in Egypt. His writing on the political scene here is excellent, but the post that I want to share is more personal. Last fall he turned 30 and wrote a meditative post on what it felt like to pass this milestone and what he'd felt he'd learned in his life so far.

A few of the thoughts from his post:

"I have learned that every human being must think well before taking a decision, but that too much thinking could paralyse a human being as well, and that it is at times wiser to leap into the waters and attempt - in a magnitude of panic - to learn how to swim."

"I realised that it is not the right of any human being to exercise control over a fellow human being except in what prevents the harm of others, and that we are much stronger than the conditions we find ourselves in - more than I had imagined. I realised that no one has the right to silence someone, or control what he reads and knows, for he is nothing but another human being like he is, and he is no way better than another to control him had the roles been reversed."


copyright 2013 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani