Interesting post. I don't know much about your country, despite having visited, other than what I have been told: oppresive regime, do not go. But since it's about trauma and depression, and not politics, I wonder if it is possible for you to identify less with your country's political fate. Not entirely, just enough to help you lead a happier life. For a lot of people who are concerned with politics (me included), there has to be a time when your mind is very politically engaged and a time when you give yourself a break, otherwise we would just crumble under the emotional burden. Taking the time out to focus on other things in your life - family, friends, your home, your non-political interests and hobbies, even funny pictures online etc. (not all of these necessarily) is a form of self-care and allows you to return to your political thoughts with more calm (and sometimes more determination). Think about it this way: when you're in the trenches, you can't just think of the trenches. Sometimes you need to think of folks back home, or football games with your friend, or the lake you liked to swim in.
I understand what you mean … but it’s hard to isolate my personal life from politics. I go through phases ... When I'm not depressed I sometimes forget about it for a while ...
I guess what keeps bringing it up for me is the fact that most of my friends have left the country, and either hate it or have lost all hope in it. And every time another person I know leaves, I am reminded of all the reasons why they make that choice.
I used to feel really angry at them, because – unlike me – most of them were really invested in the revolution. So them leaving or losing faith feels like betrayal. For many it was like being “born again”, almost a religious experience (I guess religiosity and nationalism are sort of similar anyway). I mean look at this song from 2011:
I used to blame them because even though they knew what they didn’t want, there was never really any agreement on what they wanted the country to become. And they were naďve and had no actual power. Their enthusiasm got on my nerves and annoyed me.
I find it ironic though that I’m practically invested in the fate of a country I never really felt connected to, while a lot of the people who thought of it as home have already abandoned it.
Also, I just hate the overall culture now. I’m sick of the nihilism, the self-loathing, and because a lot of people have made the conscious choice to be inhumane, or at least have accepted the inhumane consequences of their choices. No one is naďve anymore, and that sucks, because it means there’s no place for empathy or putting yourself in anyone else’s shoes.
You know you have given up all your human rights when you keep being told the only other option is ISIS or civil war or being refugees or something?
There was a time when the answer to every question or complaint was “At least it’s better than becoming like Syria or Iraq”, until it became a joke and a meme.
To quote a Lebanese song
about the futility of nationalism “They made you despair, till you gave away your freedoms for the sake of your country”.
But there’s so much you can accept and give up before the lines start to blur. After all, what is Egypt becoming, in 10 or 20 or 30 years, if not another Syria waiting to explode? Or maybe not, maybe people eventually accept anything. I don't know .. I'm not sure which is worse. I don't want to even think about how uglier the culture can become.
I feel like I'm talking about politics, even though I thought I shouldn't. Let me do it anyway ...
an example (I’m practically just venting at this point): a few years ago, an Italian Cambridge student doing research in Egypt was tortured and murdered which lead to a lot of tension between the two countries (it still exists presumably), because some people accused the Egyptian police of doing it (assuming he was “human rights activist” undercover or some ridiculous sh*t). Anyway, there was a clip of the guy’s mom where she said something like “they tortured and murdered him, the way they torture many Egyptians” and that immediately became a quote that people shared and related to.
“They killed him as if he was an Egyptian” …
Because that was essentially the crime (assuming they did it). It’s a sign of stupidity, not of evil. They misjudged the value - not of a life, unqualified; but the life of a foreigner’s life (of the wrong type anyway) and thought they would get away with it.
And there’s not even just one person I can blame for this sense of being worthless, or a single entity or part of the culture. At least if Mubarak never resigned, people would still be blaming him for everything. Now it’s just like, people have tried, and apparently that’s what we deserve, military rule or the Islamists. I want to hate everyone, but I can't because I also feel sorry for them (in a detached way).
I remember watching a documentary a while ago about Jews of Egypt (it came out in 2012, and was sympathetic towards them, sort of “reminiscing the time we were more tolerant”). Anyway, I remember one old Jewish man they were interviewing (who’s still in Egypt) was talking about their exodus in the 1960s, and when asked about whether or not he liked Um Kalthoum (which was kind of an iconic singer at the time), said something like “I was more into French music, and didn’t really like her. And ironically all the Jews I knew who loved Um Kalthoum left, and I stayed”.
That made me cry for some reason, because I feel the same way maybe.
I don’t have numbers but I’m pretty sure there’s a “middle class exodus” from the country, in the past 5 years or so. And I feel more connected to individual people who leave and never come back (no matter how much they love Um Kalthoum) - than to the country as a whole.
I keep wondering where people find the energy or the courage to just pick up and leave?
I have no motivation to do that. Not in a time when the world's so hostile to immigrants. I just don't see the point. I believe that people are fundamentally cruel.
Every time I try to even imagine myself as a "skilled worker" in another country, I just feel like throwing up.
I'm not sure why. It seems as much a death sentence as just staying here. Maybe because I feel like I'd be just as stressed and depressed because I'd be so worried about failing 24/7 ? Also, it's not like there's some place I dream of being in. All the world is ugly. Some places are just drenched in makeup I think.
I don't believe in universal human rights. I think the idea is a joke. I believe that your rights are determined by the color of your passport, among other things. But there are no universal rights, not even the right to life. That makes me sad, but not angry. I feel morally empty inside, because I judge no one. I just emotionally dislike most people.
That was long. I'd rather vent here than to other Egyptians who because I'm always too embarrassed to admit that I still can't get over this stuff.
I'm pretty sure that most of this is probably just me projecting my personal depression on a larger scale. It's scary, because I'm too depressed to tell the difference between stuff that matters and just emotional masturbation I guess. It's all mixed up in my head ...