Saturday, May 14, 2011

NOT Rediscovering Silence!

At a time in my life, I had discovered silence. Talk was way too cheap to matter anymore. Anything anyone said was a bunch of complaints about life, traffic, culture, art, work, family, expenses, the country, the world, the hungry children in Mozambique, and so on and so forth. We went from one negative circle to another. People were actually afraid to tell anyone any good news because since bad news was everywhere, they’ll probably get envied, then jinxed, and thus would never be happy again. So I decided first not to talk, then not to listen.

It was a difficult time since I was working with a new project manager who kept trying to break the ice by talking about anything and nothing in particular, and since I was becoming so silent, he always failed. I remember this one time when I was reading an article on the bulletin board and he came along, started talking about how we literally sold our entire visual heritage to privatized profit-monger corporations. He was right, and I was angry, and sad. So I ended up telling him, “I have discovered silence” and walked away. I think that was when he got the wrong impression that I was a very quiet and very sane/stable person. He found out the true inner crazy not so long after that encounter.

So here’s the thing: pre 25Jan, people were all talk. Not just all talk, they were all “complaining”. Annoying disgusting boring depressing frustrating and plain spiteful complaining. Then there was a call; more talk to take action. Strangely enough, people actually started taking action. They marched to the heart of Cairo. They took action. As per all the stories, none of them was really at all hopeful about their actions having any effect on anything. But they moved, they acted, they protested, and they stood their grounds. With all the jokes and the slogans the revolution held, there was action at heart, and very few words were actually being said. The people in Tahrir weren’t complaining that it might not work, they just kept thinking and saying: Democracy, freedom, and justice. They used power words and God supported them and gave them their victory because God helps those who help themselves. To say the least, it was glorious!

Victory was on the 11th of February. Now we’re on the 12th of May, three months later. What I’m seeing is that actions are taking a step back, and if any is taken, it’s being taken in the wrong direction. Why is this happening? Maybe because we’re back to the “let the government handle it” or we’re just expecting that whatever we say, no matter right or wrong would actually make a difference. We were doing the cardinal sin of expecting a 180 degree shift in paradigms while we only got 60 degrees at most. We went a long way but we still have so much longer to go. We’re dropping all the good initiatives because we’re feeling lazy and tired and that’s expected because we’ve lost a lot of stamina. We’re losing too much of our energy complaining, arguing, fighting, trying to prove ourselves right while we should start making lists and action items of achievements we want to make and how to actually get there.

This is my list of actions. I probably haven’t started on any of them yet. You, dear reader, will know why in the last line of this post. In all cases, there it is, maybe it will inspire you to create your own:

  • Work hard: at first I wasn’t so convinced that working hard in a multinational would help the country much, then we got visited by the EMEA director, Franc Gentili, who came all the way to Egypt to tell us that the company’s direction is to support Egypt’s branch here and help it grow, because they believe in the power of the Egyptian youth to use their energy in order to get amazing results. Egypt needs that kind of exposure. I’ve seen so many amazingly smart people right here in Egypt who just need the chance to let it all out. HP’s success in Egypt will only drag more multinationals to invest here, creating more jobs, more exposure, and more market share for the software business and other IT related businesses. So if me along with the rest of the people working at HP Egypt work as a collective with the purpose of making our center here in Egypt one of the best HP centers, I’m actually helping the country.
  • Read and Research history: we have a problem with the general culture. There is NO general culture to begin with. Contemporary literature is beyond poor. Bookstores are out there for the elite, publishing houses raised the price of books sky high. We have no idea about our true history, the amount of lessons that can be learned, the figures that we should take up as role models for the revolution; what their mistakes were and how to avoid them. We need to study successful world models and think about how to apply them, and if the government is actually launching an idea bank, then we should utilize it to get our voices out instead of just complaining about how the government is “confused”. I personally want to have history rewritten, simplified, analyzed, and corrected so that we have the accurate historical accounts, the analysis of the historical accounts, and the lessons learned from them.
  • Read and Research our culture: we seem to have missed all the great thinkers and philosophers of Egypt. With all due respect to the ones present on the cultural scene, we need to regain our trust in how good people really think, we need to learn the Arabic language all over so that we’re able to utilize it (FYI, it is the richest language in the world). We need to understand literature and meaning and be able to come out with a new culture that is not all “pop”.
  • Read and Research our religions: we seem to have gotten too lazy to look for the right sources in religion; anyone who says anything is now an expert on Islam or Christianity. We missed the culture of Islam, we missed its philosophy, and we missed its meaning by a LONG shot. We’re focusing on all the cosmetics while forgetting that engine seems to have fallen along the way. We need simplified religion that isn’t too simple that it loses meaning. I’ve got the entire set of “احياء علوم الدين” (The revival of the Religious sciences) in my dad’s library and I plan to read it carefully and thoroughly. I plan to take notes and learn and hopefully apply as much as I can. No more word of mouth religion for me.
  • Be happy: the only way I can actually do anything is by being happy because that’s the only way I’ll be able to stay positive and be able to do any of the above. I’ve been giving in to the negative energy around for way too long to actually have the energy to do anything. We all have our internal saboteurs (thank you Omar Kandeel for bringing that to my attention), we don’t need any more. Trust me your own is more than enough to overcome. Time to be positive AND spread the positivity, it’s not just about being passive anymore. Believe!

This post was supposed to be titled “Rediscovering silence” because that was what I was planning to do. I was going to go back to my pre 25Jan state and be quiet. Let all the negative complaining people be negative and complain. As I was writing, I had a change of mind and heart. No more negativity, and no more silence. The outcome is positive actions and words, and, God Willing, PROGRESS!


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