Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Zebra Crossing

Driving to work this morning I saw a zebra crossing and a conscript passing over it attempting to avoid cars which paid no heed to the lines drawn on the street. I wondered what it would take to get people to respect these lines and stop for pedestrians here in Egypt. We'd need policies and policing that enforces these policies. We would need to change our road culture and we would need to respect the human pedestrian.

But as I was thinking of all this, I realized that nations embrace the policies that reflect them most. Most policies are reflections of people's values. In certain places there is value to the individual, in others there's value to properties and in others there's value to nature. Governments enforce values they think are most important for their people. That's not to say governments are good essentially but they need to reflect their people's desires and values in order to survive, otherwise they become alien to people and are forced out.

Needless to say, as I contemplated over Egypt's values, I realized that I had been right all along to have felt alien to people. The short bursts of values and principles in 2011 seem to be the minority now. In my mind there's no sense to be pro military or pro Islamist, it's all the same mindset. Intolerance for the other and a narrow conspiratorial view on matters drives those parties. This madness and orthodox thinking is what I see before me irrespective of the side taken. 

As I think about the zebra crossing, I think about the different other values that people don't seem to mind, such as ruling with an iron fist, such as group punishment, such as police impunity, such as false respect for a judiciary which delivers injustice. Our values are truly being upheld by the government. They have only reflected what most people feel deep down.

We have a long way to go before people can respect a zebra crossing. They first need to respect and value human life.