The Dark Cloud

After a long and grueling process, Egypt has finally chosen a president. However the results were not entirely satisfactory, neither were the options but that isn’t relevant at the moment. After the first round of elections, the choices were between the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of Egypt’s former prime ministers. Therefore the situation was bleak to say the very least, because the second round of elections and by extension the final decision was to be between the worst two candidates; in my opinion at least. When the second round came around a lot of conflict arose between the different political parties, the supporters of each of the candidates and pretty much the rest of the population. Voters stood in the blazing heat, this negatively affected the election process because a large number of people were discouraged by the heat wave that swept over Egypt during the days of the election; that is in addition to the people who abstained or chose to make use of the long weekend instead.

Millions of Egyptians waited anxiously for the results of this historical event which were revealed today. Today the new president was unveiled. The Muslim Brotherhood won the elections and for the first time in over 80 years they will have control of the nation. I am truly worried and highly unoptimistic right now. The Muslim Brotherhood have a long history of violence and were severely oppressed for decades, that, in addition to their lack of political experience concerns me deeply. Because even though they are extremely organized they are also extremely narrow-minded and are in a word extremists. Therefore many conflicts will occur between them and the opposition, who are a lot. Putting into consideration that they only got around 30% of the votes in the first round, therefore more than half the population do not support them. As for the other 21% who voted for them, they found that they were just the best of the worst. The reason why I refer to the brotherhood as a whole and not the candidate, is because they constantly act as a group.

As for me, I am pessimistic at the moment and believe that my best option is to pack my bags and leave the country, which is something that has been on my mind for quite some time now. The reason I say that, is because I honestly don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I don’t think it will be in my best favor nor am I willing to wait and find out. The process of leaving is unfortunately excruciating, that on the other hand is a whole other topic.

On Education

Most of the decisions I’ve made regarding my education were made for the wrong reasons. Around the time you become a teenager, you are fed this notion that you have to take specific classes, in order to choose a major that will land you the best job; putting into consideration that the definition of a good job actually means a more lucrative job. I’m sorry to say I bought it, believing that the only way to get a “good” job is to have a “prestigious” major; regardless of what really makes you happy or what you’re truly passionate about.

As a freshman in college I chose the wrong major, which I then changed, due to this particular mind-set and I’ve regretted it ever since. It made me feel like a failure, not to mention it destroyed my grades and my self-esteem. This brings me to my second point: grades, the merit you are given for conforming to the traditional outlook on learning. Grades have become like a game to me. Each assignment is worth a certain percentage of my grade in a particular class, and all the classes added up make your overall grade, therefore each assignment is worth a certain number of points and the more points you achieve the higher your chances to make it to the next level. It has all turned into a game, the excessive need to earn grades, and to get a degree have overshadowed the real reason why one goes to college, to learn. Then again students don’t really choose what they want to learn.

It is true one chooses their major, supposedly based on their interests; however you don’t actually choose what to learn. I just watched a movie called Accepted, which is about a boy who gets rejected by every university he applies to, so he decides to create his own university. And in it, students are given the chance to create their own curriculum and choose what they what to learn. I realize of course that this is completely unorthodox and unfeasible, however learning something because you really want to learn it, is the only way it will actually be of any value to you.  I recently read a history book, because I wanted to read it, not because it was assigned to me or because I was required to read it, but because I really wanted to. I’m not particularly fond of sitting in a classroom while listening to someone talk about a topic I may not even be interested in, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like learning. I love learning new things; I would just prefer doing it on my own terms.

Voting & Verdict

A little over a week ago a historical event took place in Egypt. For the first time in 7,000 years, and yes I’m really not exaggerating, the people were given the right to choose their next leader. There are only a handful of countries in this world whose history stretches over not centuries but millenniums. And yet up until the 21st century A.D. the people of this nation were never given a true, legitimate, honest chance to choose their leader. In May 2012 the Egyptians were finally given that right. As many others, I stood in line and voted; believing that for the first time in my life my voice will actually make a difference. However the results of what seemed to be honest elections were highly disappointing. The second round of the elections will be between two extremes, both of which will do more harm than good. What the final results of the elections will be, though, no one knows.

Today on the other hand was the trial of the century. Egypt’s former president along with his sons, the minister of interior and his top associates, awaited the much-anticipated verdict, along with millions of people. It was unsatisfactory and unfair to say the least. Both the former president and minister of interior were sentenced to life in prison, which probably won’t happen, while the rest walked. Of course the result is more protests!!

How I feel about this whole thing and about the future of this place: Very Pessimistic! 

Quality Control

The quality of most Egyptian produced products is below average at best. Locally made products are almost always at lower quality than imported goods, and a lot of the time for almost the exact same price. The country has a surplus of labor, which are either unqualified or unwilling to work. That negatively affects the quality of the products that are produced in Egypt. In a post-revolutionary era; people are striving for democracy and a better political system, which is their right. However without production and the restructuring of the entire economy, the country cannot develop.

Production of manufactured goods, rather than raw materials, is crucial for the development of any country. But the quality of those goods is also a very important factor. Producing a quality product is what differentiates a good manufacturer from a bad one. But the overall quality of manufactured goods in the entire nation is poor, and the price of the good is in no way proportional to the quality of that exact same product; then the country cannot and will not develop.

A lot of Egyptians don’t trust the quality of Egyptian products. Egyptian workers unfortunately lack the skills to manufacture complex products, but what is saddening is that they are unwilling to properly produce simple products.  Therefore the only hope to develop the Egyptian industry is to not only train the workers, but hire qualified laborers that are willing to produce a quality product.

Judgment

The title of this entry is a very strong word that may have several connotations. It may refer to a legal, social or even religious term. I however am not going to go in depth in such a complex topic, as not to bore, plus I am nowhere near qualified to do so; therefore I will merely speak of fairness.

In any legal system a person is judged based on the gravity of the crime he/she has committed. Even though I’m beginning to doubt that that’s the case in Egypt; since a tyrant, who has terrorized the country for the past 30 years, and his corrupt sons have yet to be prosecuted. Not to mention he is still lying on that damn bed, as if that will bring his any sort of sympathy from the people. All of that, however, is irrelevant to this entry.

Being judged by a jury in a court for a crime is normal and just, but being judged because of your gender, religion or political ideology is not.

After the regime that has blinded and suppressed the Egyptian people has been ousted a year ago, people were able to see the realities on the ground. Some of these realities were unimaginable, while others were just unacceptable.

People speak everyday of political freedom, justice and democracy. I’m a political science major, so I study the textbook definition of these terms on a daily basis. We study what they really mean and how their application could succeed. So in order for a country to have political freedom it needs to first achieve a somewhat acceptable degree of social freedom, since total social/political freedom can never be achieved.

A society where you are judged by the people of your own country for just being yourself, will never achieve the political freedom that it is so desperately seeking. Because if you do not accept other people’s opinions and are unable acknowledge that they have a right to disagree with yours, then how will you do expect them to be accepting of you. Sharing an opposing view should never be a basis for discrimination.

A more severe problem is that so long as some communities in the same society are considered less a part of that society than others, there will never be real freedom or even fairness within a society. People in the Egyptian society tend to pass judgments without any substantial evidence to support them. By looking at a person or on the bases of a mostly false reputation a person easily thinks him/herself fit to pass judgments on others.

Whether you are judging a person or a community – regardless of the size or superiority of that community – based on reputation or prejudice that judgment will almost always be unfair. I say almost because people tend to get offended by generalization. But either way it will be unfair because the basis of that judgment were invalid to begin with.

Ultimately the only way society can have political freedom, is by being more tolerant and more accepting of minorities, of people from various political and social background and of people who are different from them in general. Otherwise political freedom will be useless, because the society will be suppressing itself and its members without any help from political powers.

Originally Published in The Independent Newspaper, AUC