Thursday, December 28, 2006

What makes a lie?

What makes a lie? Is a lie the opposite of the truth or are both terms a gray shade in the black and white spectrum. Assuming that a lie is a piece of information contrary to fact or truth, in that case truth or fact must be identified. I don’t want to get into the whole definition of truth and what have you, I will assume that we know exactly what a lie is about. My real concern here is when does a lie become a lie.

The trouble is that the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that it can be very subjective. If someone were to speak a fact that wasn’t true, then we would assume it to be a lie, but what if that person believed it to be true, is it still a lie? It’s not a lie to him, so can the piece of information take two forms according to the viewpoint from which you are looking at it? On the other extreme suppose someone spoke a fact that he believed to be false and yet he was mistaken about it and it turned out to be true, is it a lie then?

How much of our intention has to do with words being lies or truths?

Let’s say someone wrote a note describing something he will do as a past. A suicide note saying, “I’ve killed myself, for I could not bear the pains of this world any longer.” It seems to me like it would be a lie at the time of writing, yet transformed into the truth if it is done. It remains a lie if it is preempted. So what makes a lie a lie?? There’s an intricate link between lies and time and intention.

If one were to say I was in the street just a while back, would it be a lie if he was there a minute ago, an hour ago, a week ago? When does it start becoming a lie. If never then lies themselves are not what I thought them to be.

If lies take such a form, does its archenemy, the truth, take a similar form too? If lies contain some truth to them, then mustn’t truth contain some lies in them as well? Let’s forget sincerity for a while because sincerity never changes fact. If truth and lies can contain so much of each other then they can be confused.

But I think that there’s a difference. A piece of truth inside a lie cannot prove that all of it is true, but a small lie inside the truth has a much more illuminating effect.

The trouble is that one man’s lie is another man’s truth. If lies are so subjective, then we can only evaluate them in relation to people.

The man who said a truth thinking it was a lie seems to remain, still, a liar and to the person who heard it, that same lie is a truth.

Lies are in the ears of the beholder, but can we say the same about truth?

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Is there any hope for equality?

Out of the blue a friend of mine remarked: Heba is an ‘old rag’ (Literal translation of an Arabic word that means a promiscuous lady, bitch or prostitute). So I asked why… to which he said, any woman that puts herself in a compromising position such as marrying ‘3orfy’ (common law I think is translation) is an ‘old rag’. So I asked him, how about guys? Why are they not ‘old rags’ too? This of course provoked the mother of all clichéd argument over the equality of men and women in a society.

The conversation went around in its usual (concentric) circles brushing up on human rights and equality in the world along with how different people with different passports are treated differently.. etc.. etc.. we all know the drill.

But one point came up that made me pause later on after a quick recap of the conversation. It’s that rule that men can kill their wives if they saw them cheating and get 1 year in prison while women get life for a similar murder. My friend Solomon very graciously asked that we bypass this point because it’s obvious that here if a woman finds a guy cheating on her it can be his wife but not the other way around. The law itself gives the man that right.

This is where I pause amidst other points that were said because I wonder now if there’s any point to my believing in equality in such a society. Is there any hope for equality inside a society whose very own law is biased towards a man? Is there any point in trying to see equality in society if everything else around doesn’t advocate that equality? ‘Do onto others what you would have done onto you.’ That’s a powerful statement that I believe in and nowhere in others does it say just your same gender. I believe that what rights I have should be given to others, but how would that work with a law that says otherwise, with a mentality that says otherwise and with a logic that says otherwise. Yes ladies and gentlemen, there is a logic that says that in society, men and women should not be treated equally. Constitutional rights have long gone, but does it even make sense to ask for equality within the society?

One topic that came up was the appearance of women on a beach for example. The usual for guys is to have swim wear that covers a part of their body and for women to have swim wear to cover a greater portion of their body. Now where’s the equality there? ( I say let all women dress in the same way that men do) The point that Solomon brought up is that there’s a difference and that this difference causes a different standard to be applied on men and women. I said yes, but the same abstract rule applies, which is to cover the arousing sections of bodies (although I must say that most parts in a woman are arousing). To which he replied, but that just means the implementation is different and should be different in society.

The differences in general are there, but who knows enough about both genders to make this distinction I wonder… The point is that even with a skewed scale, people think that they’re actually implementing a sort of equality in their own way. Women are in a more compromised position and so they are more accountable, women are weaker and therefore equality is to be over protective of them… Now how can you deal with a problem like that if people claim that the problem doesn’t even exist?

So my question is: Is there any real and practical prospect of equality? Is there any hope that a society can provide equality at some point in time? Can this ever stop to be a losing battle?

I present the question to those of you out there with an answer. I don’t really know the answer to it but if I were to guess, I would say that there is no real hope. Try as we might to change people’s outlook on genders, there are things far greater than just outlook that are in play. There’s the law and the notion that difference in gender implies a difference in standards. There are people that are holding on to religious values in a dogmatic way that disables any logical argument to intervene. There are people too set in their ways to heed any voice of reason.

The real question isn’t education, most people are educated enough to know what equality’s about, the real question is what you believe and what you feel. As advanced as we are, we’re still guided by our emotions that our intellect cannot control, we know things to be untrue and yet our emotions are trained to believing them. It’s all about what people choose to believe and what side of the conflict they pick.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What's Worth It..

Dr. Phil was on the other day and it had a very interesting couple who were united after 62 years. Now how they were separated or united is not something I followed on the show, but the idea of them coming together when they’re both over eighty really got me thinking. I’m thinking what does it mean to spend time with someone after all these years, after all the sex drive has gone and all the things you were passionate about have cooled down. What does it mean to have companionship at this age towards the end of an entire lifetime?

The real issue at hand for me is what will I take with me if I ever manage to live to that age, what will I still be passionate about and fight over. I get into quibbles and debates about many things today, but how many of these will I look back at and say, what does it matter? How many of these things will seem futile and insignificant. There are so many things that can change about who I am, what’s important for me today? Important enough so that I carry it with me an entire lifetime.

I don’t know .. I just don’t know what’s worth it..

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Two Sides

The two sides of the same Egyptian coin is the head and the tail. Tail is a politically correct term since the true intention of a coin is having a head and a backside. Egyptians are very distinctly both really, they’re faces, but on most other occasions, they’re asses. It’s not a fifty/fifty chance though of ending up with one side rather than the other, it’s really a matter of which side you invoke.

I’ve talked with many people about the contrast between the downtown events that took place right after Ramadan and the African cup events that took place in February of the year 2006. They are opposites that are so extreme, yet certainly performed by the same people. Just last February the girls were out till midnight celebrating in face paint where other young guys who barely knew them celebrated with them and I’d go so far as to say that they even looked out for them too. The whole incident was phenomenal and the joy around was felt from the heart. The lust that following eid was also felt from the… heart. It was a very powerful lust. One that was enough to break the barriers of self control. Let me just say that those men acted on instinct. If any man is honest enough he’ll admit that when he sees a voluptuous girl on the street the thought of grabbing her crosses his mind, if not, then she’s not sexy enough. It’s just the way we feel, but we don’t act on it because as humans we’re defined by our control. There’s no doubt that both extremes exist within us but it’s a matter of how we stimulate it.

That’s not to say that the isolated incidents themselves did not contain that same contrast, for when we’re thinking of the Eid incidents we quickly overlook the few brave men who sheltered some women despite the mob. And when thinking of the African cup we overlook the sick ones who used it as an opportunity to harass some girls.

Egyptians have a way of acting like tails on normal occasions until their chivalry is challenged. A friend of mine was about to get mugged somewhere in Alexandria, and so instead of just cowering away, he went out and shouted ‘yerdeekoo ye7sal keda fi mante2etko’ ( is this a way to treat someone who came to your area is the translation I suppose assuming someone who doesn’t know Arabic would even bother to read this far). The translation doesn’t do justice cause it’s the attitude of appealing to tradition, generosity and chivalry of sha3by places. So basically some of those people switched to chivalry mode and stood up for those who were trying to mug my friend.

It’s all about which side of people you appeal to. It’s about what part you provoke. People are not ready to confront being low, they’re just ready to be it without anyone pointing it to them. People aren’t ready not to be gallant, they would fight off any such accusations in a second. This is always been a theory of mine, that you have to know which side to invoke in Egyptians. The usual circumstances usually lead to getting tails but if you appeal to them you might get their chivalry.

The theory is of course evident by downtown vs. African cup, but that got me to thinking, what is it that drove people to either of those extremes? The problem is that with the African cup, people felt united and people felt hope and that’s always a dangerous thing in a country like ours.. because not so long after this false sense of hope and pride, people realize how false it is. When confronted with their daily life they see clearly that they’ve been robbed of a right to hope or stand united. The African cup was just a glimpse of what could have been and the happenings of Eid are a glimpse of what really is. It’s hopelessness and despair and a sort of jungle. People’s chivalry is of no use to anyone and so it disappears.

People have been educated in such a manner where everything contradicts itself and so all you end up with are two extremes within them rather than one moderate behavior.

It’s a shame to see all the goodness of people thrown away, their potential crushed and their spirits drained. I’m a skeptic, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that Egyptians have proven that when they need to, their motivation takes them a long way. The only problem is that it’s in very short pulses, like an awakening that happens once in a very long while.

There’s a search for a common goal, so that people’s energies are used and so that one person can derive power from the other. In the African cup it was a good cause, a victory for an Egyptian country, and that’s why women were protected, because the cause was being united to face our challengers. In Eid the goal was to chase and harass girls. It was a common goal and that’s why there was so much energy. People are deprived of a real goal, but they’re running towards nothing anyway.