“Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness”  grand words, great aspirations, magnificient vision!  Do you  have these natural and “unalienable rights”?  We have gone through a revolution of sorts in Egypt and I am questioning the validity of it, the sense of it – was it of value?  Will there be change?  Will Egypt be better for the Egyptian people now?  A former Governor once asked me to look at a project here in Luxor and give him my opinion on it…..bad mistake, bad bad bad mistake on his part!  You see I am one of those annoying people who will tell you straight to your face what you don’t want to hear and (in Egypt) what everyone else may be afraid to tell you!  One of the benefits I have accrued as I get older!
Realists can read on…….Egyptians and “lovers of Egypt” wearing rose coloured glasses might want to stop reading here.  I am going to generalise throughout this blog based on my overall knowledge and personal experiences of living in Egypt – I apologise to the minority who do not fit into the “Egyptians”  I am generalising about – there are always exceptions to the rule.Yes, that quote about Life, Liberty etc. is from the American Declaration of Independence and we also have a Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Egypt has appended it’s acceptance.

FREEDOM FOR EGYPTIANS

  • Freedom will not come just because the Egyptians threw out a President and his Government
  • Freedom cannot be endowed on Egyptians by any future President or Government.
  • Freedom is NOT a natural state of being granted by God, Allah or any other Higher Deity.
  • Freedom can only be given to the Egyptians by the Egyptians themselves.

Do I think the Egyptians can free themselves?  Right now?  Only if they change themselves as individuals!  The following will not make nice reading but it is a reality that has to be faced.  The Egyptians are their own worst enemies and they hold one another in bondage.  They had a dictator who reflected their own personalities of the time – has that changed?  We wait to see.  Mubarak’s government lied, cheated, embezzled, stole, murdered, imprisoned, oppressed, intimidated, subjugated it’s people.  So do the Egyptians do to one another and to outsiders.  Law of Attraction at work again 🙂  Mubarak’s government – like a parent – fed, educated, looked after, medicated, housed, provided employment, stability and incentives for it’s people.  So do the Egyptians do for their families.  You see Mubarak’s government reflected the Egyptian people for 30 years.   The question is – “Is Egypt entering a new era and will it be better or worse?”

To have a truly Free Society there are 6 Pillars of Society necessary – those Pillars are

  1. Truth
  2. Honest
  3. Willingness to Live and Let Live
  4. Appreciation (Love)
  5. A certain level of natural intelligence and common sense
  6. Vision

PILLAR 1  –  TRUTH – Are Egyptians Truthful?
Q.  “How much is it to go from Luxor Temple to Karnak?”  “How much is this carpet?”,  “How much is it to paint the house?”
A.  “Up to you” – “As you like” – “No problem”  This is a lie – it’s not up to you, it’s not “as you like” and it most definitely is a problem if you don’t give him MORE than what he expects.

Q. “Will you do this, come here or go there tomorrow?”  (My personal favourite is “Will I get my licence, permit, permission, gvt. paper then?”)
A.  “In sh’Allah”  But it’s not about what Allah wants – it’s about what the Egyptian wants or does not want to do, but the only answer you will get is “In sh’Allah” which in my own personal experience I have come to recognise as mostly “no, that ain’t gonna happen Lady”

Q.  “What are the tourism figures for 2011/2012?”
A.  “There is a drop of 30% but it is getting better and we are working very hard on the problem”
LIE!  Tourism has dropped 70% and is not showing much if any recovery, might even be getting worse.  They included in the 2011 figures the Egyptians and Libyans fleeing Libya!

In tourism – their biggest industry (formerly) are they truthful about things like tour prices?  No, they battle for business based on low prices and then catch the tourist with the additional entry fees, extras etc once at the temples etc.

The biggy of the moment is the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom I have not had a problem until now….they promised they would not run a candidate in the Presidential Election.  They have allowed the first taste of power (getting a majority in the Parliament) to go to their heads – so already they have been corrupted by the power.  They have announced they will run a candidate for the Presidency.  How can they be trusted now by anyone?  A liar is  liar and this has got to be one of the biggest public lies to date!

Are Egyptians truthful?  No, from the bottom to the top – they lie.

PILLAR 2  – HONESTY – Are Egyptians honest?
Most of the teachers would do their students a better service by staying at home themselves.  They bring the young children to school at 7am and keep them for 4 – 5 hours in boring classrooms, no charts, learning aids, stimulation.  They are subjected to physical, verbal and emotional abuse – not to mention the fact that they are taught practically nothing – why?  Because the teacher can make extra money by giving private lessons outside school hours.

So I have more pity for the children whose parents can afford these private lessons than I do for those who can’t – these poor kids spend another 2 – 3 hours after school at private lessons – FROM THE AGE OF 4.  To add insult to injury many of these schools are funded by institutions like the World Bank.  But then this dishonesty exists because the teachers are not paid a livable wage.  The detrimental effect on the children’s self-esteem, morale and ability to develop their brain functions is profound and irreversible.  Many drop out of school at an early age without even mastering the basic reading and writing skills.

Egyptians in the tourist industry (for the most part) are not honest and the system is largely responsible for this, but, unlike the problem of Lying, this is not a difficult problem to fix.  There are two problems here

  • firstly the ordinary Egyptians do not appreciate the value of their monuments, beaches and other natural touristic assets.
  • Secondly because of the lack of appreciation they market Egypt as a cheap destination and it is NOT a cheap destination.  The hotels, travel agents, tour operators, guides etc. ALL compete on dishonestly low prices and rely on taking the tourist to shops, restaurants, bazzars etc. where they get commission to make up the cost and hopefully make a profit.  The tour guides and hotels lie in a sense when they tell people it is not safe for them to shop or eat outside or go anywhere without them.

The shops in the tourist areas drive most tourists crazy with the lack of price tags and bargaining system.  They make a huge profit on a few unsuspecting tourists at the expense of thousands who would frequent their shops and buy their souvenirs if left alone to browse and if given an honest price quote.

The souvenirs….!!  This is not honest either – because most of the stuff in the shops are from China NOT from Egypt and this particular piece of dishonesty costs millions of Egyptians the chance to make a living by denying them the opportunity of a fair market place for their goods.  It is this piece of dishonesty that annoys me the most!

Egypt prices itself too low in everything therefore

  • Egypt cannot pay it’s workers an honest, livable wage for an honest day’s work.
  • Egypt’s government workers mostly work for a pittance for half a day then complete the day as electricians, salesmen, carpenters etc. etc.
  • Egypt’s government workers at the bottom end of the system in every Department depend on “tips” for completing paperwork etc.
  • Egypt’s lower paid government workers are corrupt by force of a bad system
  • Egypt’s higher paid government workers are corrupted by simple greed.

The first step here is for the tourist industry to come together and agreed to overhaul their pricing systems, see how they can improved all areas of service etc. and then MARKET Egypt PROPERLY!

Egypt has the wonders of the world and behaves like a beggar!

PILLAR 3  – LIVE & LET LIVE
Seems like Egypt has been dominated by foreign powers, rulers, dictators forever!  But they dominate each other also – they are getting back from their “Rulers” what they are giving to each other. Law of Attraction at work again!   Father dominates Mother who dominates the children, who dominate each other in the pecking order, children in turn dominate cats, dogs, birds and bully each other.  Each one is both a perpetrator and a victim.  They have no sense of personal or private space or rights.

They intrude on their neighbours 24 hours a day with noise from their dogs, domestic violence, loud music, car honking, street vendors to name but a few.  There is never silence in Egypt.  They stop their cars outside their houses, their friends’ houses at all hours of the night, honk the horns for attention while leaving the car stereo blaring, they bang their car doors and metal house doors at all hours – never mind that anyone else might possibly be sleeping.

Egypt is rife with sexual and religious intolerance and domination.  I don’t even need to go there I think on the subject of women…….but on the subject of religion I would like to quote Martin Luther 
“Every man is responsible for his own faith, and he must see it for himself that he believes rightly. As little as another can go to hell or heaven for me, so little can he believe or disbelieve for me; and as little as he can open or shut heaven or hell for me, so little can he drive me to faith or unbelief. Since, then, belief or unbelief is a matter of every one’s conscience, and since this is no lessening of the secular power, the latter should be content and attend to its own affairs and permit men to believe one thing or another, as they are able and willing, and constrain no one by force.”

The obviously failed attempt (failed because practically nobody gets up!) by Imams to get the people out of bed to pray at 4am with incredibly loud public address systems is ludicrous.  I have no problem with the call to prayer but if the Muslims want to follow their Prophet Mohammad exactly (as they do in so many other issues) then I would like to ask them where the Prophet told them to burst the eardrums of those living near the mosques with numerous loudspeaker systems at least in the middle of the night – from what I have learned about the Prophet I don’t believe this is an idea he would approve of.  The best way to give service and praise to Allah in this respect would be to use the beautiful human voice to call people to pray instead of cackling electronic machines which bother the ear-drums and annoy the soul!  Finally, surely the right to sleep is a basic human right?

They clean out their houses and pollute the communal areas such as streets and open areas with their rubbish, dead birds, animals and faeces.

Does any of the above make for a society where people allow each other to live in peace, quiet and harmony?  Why should they expect to have a government who will allow them this when they don’t allow one another basic conditions required for sleep, good health and tolerance?

PILLAR 4  – APPRECIATION  
I appreciate the farmers who spend hours in the fields and tending to animals to provide us with a constant, steady supply of good food.  Does the price of vegetables reflect anyone’s appreciation?

I appreciate when a carpenter, electrician etc. actually turns up and does some work for me – but the Egyptian system of bring someone to do some work then haggling over the already low price for the man’s time and experience……this lack of appreciation is then reflected in the quality of work which is offered for the most part.  If you don’t appreciate my work and want me to do it for a pittance, am I going to be bothered delivering you my best effort?

Look at how women, children, horses and donkeys are treated – constantly beaten and half starved – should Egyptians then expect something better from their “Rulers”?

Look at the domestic abuse, the violence women and children are subjected to – should Egyptians then expect something better from their “Rulers”?

Has anyone acknowledge that for the last 30 years there has been one single item, event, development in Egypt deserving of public appreciation?  No,  the baby was thrown out with the bathwater!  No appreciation for bread already eaten.

Without appreciation (let’s not even go so far as to use the word “love”) for your wives, husbands, children, parents, siblings, neighbours, community, service providers etc. how can any community or county survive?  It just becomes a dog eat dog society.

PILLAR 5  – NATURAL INTELLIGENCE – Basic Common Sense
I don’t know if it is the centuries of domination or the ethos of the religions here that is responsible for the total lack of natural curiosity or questioning in Egyptians.  They never question why or how systems or anything else works.  I do have a man with an inquisitive nature who can fix anything that’s broken.  He is an electrican but when I present him with other things he sits, looks, touches and examines how the pieces fit to together and usually fixes the object….but I only know 2 like that:-)

Common Sense – do Egyptians possess common sense – here are some areas I found they don’t…

  • Dirt breeds flies, rats, mosquitoes – harbors bacteria and contributes to diseases
  • Overwhelming noise levels damage hearing – constant overwhelming noise levels lead to stress, high blood pressure and stress related illnesses.
  • keeping pidgeons in the bedroom next to yours is not healthy
  • Constant sleep deprivation leads to anxiety, nervousness, anger, stress, eventually even mental instability and in some cases death.
  • Just because a guy has more money than you does not mean you should bow down to him – in fact in Egypt you should question how he got it!
  • Banging a child around the head will not make him smarter!
  • You have been told enough times that tourists will buy is you give them an honest price and stop hassling them!
  • The education system didn’t do you any good why do you think it will be any better for your child?
  • Government offices are supposed (in another world) to encourage people to work not stop them by holding up or never finishing the paperwork
  • Closing down the Suez Canal severely costs Egypt money!
  • Stopping the few tourists, who have been brave enough to come to Egypt, from entering the temple on INTERNATIONAL TOURISM day is an idiotic, self-defeating idea!
  • If nobody is coming to rescue you, feed you, give you money or a job – then you best start thinking up ideas yourself.
  • Standing next to a huge loudspeaker playing a high volume could make you deaf.
  • If you’ve got a constant headache there is something wrong with you and if the idiot doctor does no more than give you a painkiller you’re going to the wrong doctor
  • If your sister got highlights in her african-type hair and it fell out…..why would you do the same?
  • If you see her as an asset to be traded there is not much point marrying your daughter off to a bad man who will probably divorce her after a week!
  • If he beats his sisters – he’s probably going to beat you – don’t marry him!
  • If someone pays you well for doing a job and pays you the minute you finish it – turn up on time the next time you’re called
  • Having ants all over your kitchen every morning and eating them is not the best way of getting protein – go buy some ant powder!
  • Telling lies on TV is stupid – it’s recorded and will come back to bite you.
  • My favourite……wear the headscarf so you can keep all your charms for your future husband ….fine……but where does that fit in with the heavy make-up and wearing skinny jeans and tops which while they cover the flesh leave nothing to the imagination when it comes to the womanly shape??????
  • Latest example – the Presidential Election…..to the best of my knowledge the lady running for election cannot, under the current law, become President but she is running to make a point………however, an alternative point nobody seems to be considering is that if the anti-Muslim Brotherhood vote is split between this lady and liberals etc…..then we can be assured that the Muslim Brotherhood will have an easy run and win the race.  Common sense and co-operation called for here – it will be interesting to watch which human characteristics take precedence.  A month is not a long time for a campaign and to date everyone apart from MB seem ill-prepared.

PILLAR 6  –  VISION
Before Egypt can a have a Grand Vision of where it wants to go as a country or a nation it must first nurture a vision of having the 5 Pillars in place.  Then Egypt can work on a bigger vision and will have all 6 Pillars in place on which to build their new world.  It is precisely because Egyptians as individuals have not nurtured the first 5 Pillars that NOBODY in Egypt has produced a plan, a vision, a specific ideal other than the basic animal instinct which it exercised in getting rid of the person at the top – namely Mubark.

If you want to read over my earlier blogs from the revolution you will see that even then I could not see Egypt producing a leader who would replace Mubark (for all his faults).  Apart from the laudable accomplishment of stopping the brutal aspects of the police system Egypt has steadily gone downhill economically and socially since February 2011.  Frankly it has amazed me that the population has survived and that there has been little or no violence of any proportion outside of Tahrir Sq in Cairo over this last year.

So, in conclusion I think I have discovered a quiet quality in the Egyptians that I was not aware of – they are a Stoic Nation.

It will be interesting to see if Egyptians will find in themselves enough of the 6 Pillars of Society needed for true freedom over the next 2 – 3 months and claim it ……or if they will opt to be governed by those whose now declared first and final objective is the establishment of Sharia Law click here

Mara

Hi, I'm from Ireland and I built Mara House, a small, family run, unique boutique hotel in Luxor in 2003.....My promise is to deliver quality service, traditional food, comfort, enjoyable experiences, up-front pricing, no hidden extras.....PLUS I answer all your emails personally..... I provide professional, qualified tour guides who do NOT divert you to shops, restaurants etc. for commission.....We are best suited to people who like to be taken care of from airport entry to airport departure, people who want to avoid hassle, scams and tourist traps.....You deal directly with me... Hope you find my travel info helpful -//.. Mara
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