Friday, April 28, 2006

On the Titanic

29 April

We are a country of lost souls, we are nuts, we are totally stupid and insanely reckless. We are living dangerous times, the future does not look enticing and the past has failed to teach us useful lessons. Rather it has destroyed our intelligence, curiosity, creativity and capacity to reason. Between the corrupt politicians and the "fous de Dieu" our present is in dire jeopardy. But do we wake up? Do we wonder where we are going? No, not us. There are those who can afford it and are busy organizing great parties, playing poker, giving their children lavish cars with which to kill or kill themselves; they buy houses, clothes, booze and travel first class to exotic destinations. The rest, the majority, are dreaming of a world where Islam will reign supreme and deliver them once and for all from the sight of the partying crowds and from their own misery. That or they will try to blow the world up.
The rich and powerful know how to escape the responsibility of paying for the thousand wretches who died in the shipwreck of a rotten boat, they endeavor to silence the judges who denounce political scandals and lock up honest journalists for more or less the same reasons.
Meanwhile the poor play with bombs or knives and attack mosques and churches, tourist resorts, anything that will ruin the country. And what does the silent majority do? They remain silent. Do they ever stir? Yes, when their daughters are caught innocently kissing a schoolmate, a perverse and wicked act which might compromise the girls' chances of honoring their parents with a "proper marriage". For the rest these well meaning parents will consult the Qur'an which, as we all know, can provide all the right answers.
For a long time I hoped that the Egyptians would wake up, understand that we are rotting, have been for the past half century, that we need to be totally overhauled. Now I know: We are terminally damned. We have lost the power to rebel, to open our windows to let the spirit of innovation blow in. We no longer create, we copy and our models are obsolete, unusable, unsuitable to our times. Yet we wallow in this quagmire: the elites think they are recreating the pre 1950 happy go lucky way of life, and the poor want to drag the country towards the Middle Ages and return to the beginning of religion. We cannot pretend to be the same cosmopolitan society that buoyed Egypt in the recent past, if only because, even though having the money, we no longer have the culture, the taste or the civic sense of our predecessors. On the other hand we cannot hope to duplicate, in our overcrowded cities lying across the divide between antiquity and modernity, life in the desert as practiced by the Prophet. We can however become manipulators' perfect victims and they will keep on prying on our ignorance, bigotry, prudery and delusions of grandeur. What were they doing on the Titanic just before it sank?

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