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؟