I once tried to save the world; I ended up being the one who wants to be saved.
I once tried to give hope to people and motivate them to be the change they want to see, but I am the one who eventually lost my soul. I once thought I knew my mission and purpose in life, but then I lost all sense of direction. I once had an identity, now I don’t know who I am! I discovered that power is the natural law that has ruled the world since the creation of man. Yes knowledge is power, but while knowledge and science can bring about human advancement, a nuclear bomb that threatens to exterminate humankind retains the most power. The masters of war are the ones controlling everything and can decide our destiny.
Peace builders always talk about hope to console and persuade people in conflict that things will finally change. But many people have lived to suffer and died before seeing any glimpse of hope. It is becoming very clear to me that some people were destined to pay the price of conflict and war while others were destined to gain from it, and that is just how life is. The distribution of wealth and power is already settled whether we like or not. It is the politicians and rulers who can shape our lives and determine our status.
My father has lived all of his life suffering from the tyranny of one government after another in Egypt. The 1952 Revolution turned all the rich families into middle classes and the poor (and uneducated) became the rich and powerful. My father’s family lost much of their land and properties. Nasser turned the country into a police state and anyone could be charged with counterrevolutionary activity without proof. My father was as young as 17 when he was charged with counterrevolutionary activity for joining the Muslim Brotherhood social club. Being a descendant from a royal family, he experienced the horrible and inhumane life in the worst prison in the history of human kind, the Military Prison (more horrifying that Guantanamo), where the only entertainment they had was watching the police dogs chewing on prisoners and listening to the whips ripping pieces of flesh. He was doomed to never see the sun rise again but when Sadat came to power, he freed all the prisoners of conscience. In fact, I owe my life to this great man because if it were not for him, my father would have rotted in prison and would never have married my mum. Although Sadat managed to revive the economy, people fled to the Gulf countries to find better job opportunities. It wasn’t too long, however, before Mubarak’s authoritarian government took over the Al-Rayan bank, where nearly 200,000 people had saved their money. The government wanted to punish the business tycoon, Ahmed Al-Rayan and to teach people a lesson for trusting other banks with their life savings, so my father lost all the money he made in twenty years in Saudi Arabia.
Upon the announcement of Mubarak’s Al-Rayan crackdown, many people committed suicide and hundreds became ill. After my father had worked hard to become rich enough to live as a king without having to work for the rest of his life, he AGAIN found himself struggling to make ends meet. Under shock, he searched for jobs but he never settled in a permanent job that could secure our needs, so he had to travel back again to Saudi Arabia. The story doesn’t end like in the Pursuit of Happyness movie when Chris Gardner overcame all the obstacles and became a rich man, because Egypt is not the land of opportunities. It is the land of connections, bribery, corruption and money is made by business or politics. Having made some money finally in his fifties, he came back to Egypt to battle cancer and spend most of his money on medical treatment. My father lived with hope, and like Silas Marner, in George Eliot’s novel the Weaver of Raveloe, he waited all his life that his money might somehow come back to him. But it never came back!
More than 60 years ago, people who lived under the British occupation dreamed of a better tomorrow when Egypt would be independent. But human conditions deteriorated during Nasser’s era. Yet, people still waited for the hope of a promising future. When Sadat came to power, there was still war and instability. During Mubarak’s regime, people lived for thirty year under dictatorship and oppression. The post-Mubarak revolution has still brought about more suffering and misery. Despite the long history of repression and injustice, many people still spend their life in delusional hope without witnessing any change. How many lives have ended without experiencing the taste of justice, freedom and social welfare? Maybe Hope is a state of denial.
It makes us see the world as if we are seeing a dream during a coma. But soon we must wake up to deal with what IS, not with what should be!
YaLa Young Leaders