Monday, May 31, 2010
I just realized something. I'm incensed by injustice. I know what it sounds like. I just think that there's a difference between thinking something and realizing it. I realized that I'm not just pretending to be incensed by injustice to seem modern and philanthropic. I really am. There was a time when I used to pretend and I thought I really felt incensed. That was some time back. But now I realize that I cannot stop being angry and full of rage at injustice.
I think the reason behind this fury of mine is that I know what it's like not to be able to get what's rightfully yours. I know what it's like to be surrounded by evil from all sides. I know what it's like to live in an immoral world that offers no true justice. I know what it's like to be lied to and for places of power to hide behind slogans. I know how it is to be afraid to fight a bully. It's not enough to be right, you have to have enough power to enforce it. I know what it's like to pretend that you are angered by injustice to seem moral, liberal and democratic.
To sum it up, the reason I'm incensed is because I know what it's like.
I've never been a true advocate for the Palestinian cause, nor have I been a true adversary of the Egyptian government. I have never been the most arduous activist streamlined with what I call 'slogany' things. I haven't been any of that. Of late, I'm forced to take sides I never wished to take. I've learned to judge quick based on history, I've learned to understand where lies lie and where truths try to appear.
It's not that justice in the worldly sense is satisfying. Executing someone who has killed an innocent never brings an innocent back. You can't even kill someone a thousand times over if they've killed a thousand people. But you know what? It's the next best thing. Worldly justice is the next best thing and it's not even great. So to take that away, to think of life as offering so much less is infuriating.
This is an angry post and it says nothing. Maybe some time I'll express exactly why I feel that bullies getting on a ship and killing civilians is infuriating. Maybe I'll explain why it's annoying that the whole world is just good at talking and won't do shit to stop atrocities and injustice. Maybe I'll explain why I feel that condemnation is broken record that doesn't change a thing. The laws of the world are like the laws of the jungle, only slightly refined. Humans are equal, but some humans are more equal than others. That's the way of the world, no matter what Obama says. That's the way of the world, no matter how civilized you pretend to be.
Once in a while a Ghandi comes or a Martin Luther King Jr. and they prove to the world that this is not the way the world works, but how possible is it to wait on one of those?
The other day a traffic cop bullied his way into getting 40 LE out of me. In return I lingered and talked his ear off about how messed up it was for him to be working for the government. I told him that there's so much injustice. Take for example how horrible the planning for streets are, and we have to pay for the government's delinquency and dereliction. He asked with some irony, is this the sum of all your grievances?
He said, "Everyone here is facing injustice."
I said, "Well maybe that's why you should inflict injustice upon others. But I think that a truly good man would not."
We chatted for several minutes in the afternoon. We talked about football, about writing and about the streets. He apologized for giving me the ticket. He said that if he'd known I didn't have that much money on me, then he'd have given me my license (after threatening he'd take it). We're all sorry, aren't we, for all the shit that's going on around us. I'm sure he really was, and I really am. He did exactly what I'm doing now, he said he was sorry but did nothing else.
We're all sorry and we're not doing anything about it. I'm not saying we should, it is far too annoying, much like the voting ads full of bullshit the government wants to sell us. Those ads are too annoying, too deluding and too saddening, so I won't sound like them. I'll just do what we all do best and say that I'm sorry I don't have any bright ideas. I'm sorry that bullying is the Egyptian way now, and I'm sorry I won't agree with any delusions.
The funny thing is that this man may have been a good man in another country. I may have been a good man in a better country. We may have even been friends.
Friday, May 07, 2010
Having received my new smaller sized passport from the officer in charge, I headed out. On the way out, whilst holding my passport and stopping to place it in my backpack, I heard a voice saying, "Don't do it."
I looked to my left and I saw a young man dressed in a suit with the tie undone and loosely hanging around his open shirt. He was sitting in the driving seat of an old faded red 4x4 Lada, preparing to start the engine and back out into the street.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"Don't do it," he repeated, "don't leave the country."
That's one of the things I enjoy about Cairo, you can strike up a conversation of this type.
"El balad dee ahsan men gairha" he said. (This country is better than others)
"Is that right?" I said, "I think it depends on the country you're comparing it to."
"You're right about that," he said.
"Where have you been or where are you going?"
He said, "I haven't been anywhere and I'm not going anywhere."
"Then how do you know that this country is better than others?" I asked.
He replied, "I suppose there must be things here better than others."
"Well, I've been to many other places. Don't be fooled into thinking that everything here is better than anywhere else," I said.
"You're right, to be honest, 90% of everything in this country is unbearable."