Monday, January 12, 2015

The mentality of إشمعنى أنا

The mentality of modern Egyptian society can be summed up in one conveniently escapist and all-encompassing word:  إشمعنى.

  • إشمعنى I have to stand in line, if no one else does? 
  • إشمعنى I should pay taxes, if no one else does? 
  • إشمعنى I should allow the ambulance to pass me, if no one else does? 
  • إشمعنى I should work my way up the ladder instead of using a wasta, if no one else does? 
  • إشمعنى I should hold on to my used tissue and dispose of it in a garbage bin five meters away instead of just tossing it out the window, if no one else does?
  • إشمعنى I should be told not to blow my cigarette smoke straight into your face, if everyone else does?
  • إشمعنى I should accept criticism of our pristine courts, if O.J. Simpson was found not guilty?
  • إشمعنى I should listen to lectures on democracy, if President Bush was elected by hanging chads?
  • إشمعنى I should care if our police officers kill one or two or a thousand protesters, if it happens in Ferguson and New York City?
  • إشمعنى I should sympathize with the death of a few Europeans at the hands of terrorists, if Europeans (and we, but let's not digress) don't sympathize with the thousands killed by terrorists here?
  • إشمعنى I should tolerate any criticism of my religious tenants, if the Crusaders also abused Christian teachings in the Middle Ages? 
  • إشمعنى I should bear any personal or societal responsibility for anything at all?   
إشمعنى أنا يعني؟

1 comment:

  1. as ive thought about the isham3na culture/identity in reference to the stated questions as its simplified here, takes me back to a notion of a society thats been defeated from within and from the outside...
    why me to stand in line? no trust of government, makes everyone fend for themselves.
    why pay taxes, not because of anyone else, because of lack of trust again.
    why should ambulance should pass? again, trust, they assume there is no patient nor emergency.
    why wasta? because they have seen the hard worker get screwed if not alienated or flat out cast away as a pariah or a potential threat to the decrepit infested status quo
    why not throw trash away? some might say the garbage man will take it, they know thats not true. but they still try to say it, i think they yearn for a cleaner city, but the fact they still litter is a sign of defeat. they have given up hope that any change can come, whether from people or government.
    why not blow smoke? its a my-world mentality, get my own, do what i want. it stems from the survival mentality, and the ill take whatever little pleasure i can because theres not much. and incidentally the pleasures related to the inconveniences of others are not uncommon nor different in nature from the ruling class allowing the country's public services to deteriorate and crumble to the point of hugely harming society at as they revel in the profits stolen from the small man... then the smaller man goes around and does the same thing, to feel a little but "large ya basha"
    why accept criticisms of courts or whatever authority? at this point, thats just fear playing out... as if the current regime is flawless, but that anything else plays into the dichotomy of nonsense of extreme rulers, islamist or military.
    why listen to lectures of democracy, those were the ones that didnt go to the streets on jan25, out of fear, fear of change to something where everyone lives a healthier life style. fear that the seese loses out and the bipolar world reemerges with mb or some other form of islamis. fear like in the western worlds, lots of fear implanted
    why care when people die? police or protesters? they think their lives are unaffected, but they know its not true, no one in egypt is unaffected by deaths of one or the other now...if they ask ishama3na when theres fergurson, then they are still stuck in the old paradigm of comparing to shit out convenience, as if the US is the ideal to compare to, the country where occupy tried to do something, the core of the worlds order