Monday, December 30, 2013

ابدا بنفسك - Open letter to my Egyptian friends

Dear friends,

You know that I’ve been living in Egypt for quite a while. I follow the events, I discuss with you and listen to your worries about your life and your country. None of you is happy, we are all disappointed from how the last three years have turned out. I’m sorry for all of you and I’m sorry for Egypt. But there is something, I would like to tell you:

You all want to change your country? You’re dreaming of changing a huge country like Egypt:

  • that is home to 90 million people,
  • whose surface is almost one million square meters,
  • that is home to people of different ethnics, faith and cultures,
  • that cannot provide for enough drinking water, corn and energy,
  • that is drowning in smog, sewage water and waste ashore and in the sea,
  • that is among the most corrupt countries of the world?

You want to change all this and much more than that??? Yet none of you is trying to change your own attitude. If you want to change your country, you first have to change yourself! ابدا بنفسك

Social and public life – it’s all about respect
Please, respect other people. Your neighbour is different from you? He behaves differently? AND SO WHAT? Mind your own business!

Lower class, upper class? What’s that? Why do you rant at the sweeper and bow to the manager? None of them is better or worse than you: all of them are human beings and deserve respect.

Please, respect women. Don’t harass them, don’t gape at them as if they were only sexual objects and no human beings. Treat them as if they were princesses – they deserve it.

What’s the problem with gays, lesbians, atheists and believers of other religions? You don’t need to like them or understand their choices. But show them respect – they are human like you and me and everything else is neither your nor my business.

You’re driving? Egyptian men boast themselves for being gentlemen. However, 90 % of them turn into monsters as soon as they’re holding a steering wheel. Why don’t you stop and let pedestrians cross the street, but instead, you accelerate and almost kill them? Why don’t you stay in your lane but switch from right to left and from left to right at your own discretion? Please respect the traffic rules – this is what they are made for.

You’re having an argument with somebody? Ok, figure it out. But why do you need to shout in public and even start a brawl or worse: start a big fight with your friends’ support? Can’t you just figure it out in a decent way? Do you really need to bother all passers-by, the neighbours upstairs, downstairs and those on the other side of the street as well? Keep it civilised, please.

Talking on the phone in public seems to be more essential than drinking water or eating bread. I got it. But then, please don’t raise your voice and let dozens of other people listen to your talk – we really don’t want to know about your personal stuff.

Are you having an appointment? So don’t be late! And if you happen to be late, ring your buddy up and tell him about your delay.

You’re among the lucky ones who have a job? Hundreds of thousands haven’t got one. So then why don’t you do your job properly? Why do you deliver only 60% of quality, why do you accomplish only 60% of the task? Why do you stop halfway? Why do you leave it half-finished? Having a job is a commitment – but if you’re not committed, it means you’re unreliable and not worth the salary.

I know, that you want to reply “but others do it as well!” AND SO WHAT? Do you jump from a skyscraper when someone else does???? Yes, most probably you do…

Private life – keep it private, it’s yours only
You told me so many sad stories about this subject. You want to divorce? You’re unhappy, your partner is unhappy and everybody else in your family is unhappy, too? So, skip the hypocrite honour, traditions and culture of your tribe or family! Is it your life or those of the others? Do you want to bring up your children in a hypocrite family, teach them hypocrite values or do you want their life to be better than yours?

You would like to marry the one you love, but he / she is from another religion, country and social class and any other of those man-made artificial obstacles? Again, I ask you: is it your life or the life of those who want to force you into an arranged marriage that will leave you and your partner unhappy, that will force you to play a role just to satisfy the honour of the family? If you don’t break the circle, will you allow your child to break it? Or will you force it into the same unhappy life? But of course, you want your child to have a better life than yours, don’t you?
Choose your own life and respect choices of others, please!

Environment, pollution, waste and that kind – care for it
Do you really need a new plastic bag every time you buy a can of coke? No? You drink it anyway right away? So then why don’t you refuse the plastic bag with a smile?

Have you ever thought about all that plastic bags and bottles and cardboard boxes and cans that the wind swirls into the desert and into the sea? Have you ever thought what damage it does to the coral reefs, to the fish, to the birds, to mother earth? Have you ever thought that plastic takes ages to decompose? Have you ever thought about how ugly it is to see all that rubbish all over your country and what harm it can bring to your health? Stop littering, please! Stop dumping debris on streets, squares, in the sea and in the desert. If you can’t find a rubbish bin right away, take your rubbish home and dispose of it there – and teach others to do the same. Be an example for those around you.

There are millions of poor people in your country. Many of them aren’t able to eat one’s fill every day. You know it, don’t you? So how come that you venture to throw away food and half-empty drinks?

Your country suffers from power cuts and lacks of enough energy supply. I’d think that everybody would try to be economical with it, yet I’m wrong! Is it really necessary, that your air conditioner is running while windows and doors are wide open? Has no one ever told you that doors and windows should be shut? Lights in staircases are on all night – why? Streetlights burn during the day – why? You sleep with the light switched on – why? It’s such a waste of energy and of money! Egypt can’t afford to waste it.

ابدا بنفسك
If it’s not you who start to change your life, who will do it for you? Will your children start to change their lives? Or will everything remain the same always? So that nothing will ever change? How then, please tell me, should your country ever change?

I know that most of you, my Egyptian friends, are aware of this and behave accordingly. This is an open letter, so please share it with your friends and your family and their friends and family.
Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. As said on German page, please would someone translate this into Arabic and spread the word?? Many expats will happily share this message with their own Egyptian friends.

    Dutch woman living in El Quseir


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