OnIslam.net

One Egyptian's Survivor Syndrome

By Sara Khorshid
Egyptian Journalist
A boy holds school bags recovered from the site of a train crash in the city of Manfalut near Assiut - REUTERS
Just being an Egyptian could be tragic enough to cause a survivor's syndrome. (Reuters)
One Egyptian's Survivor Syndrome

Survivor's syndrome is known to be typically found among those who live after seeing comrades die in combat, or those who survive deadly accidents and natural disasters.  But just being an Egyptian could be tragic enough to cause a survivor's syndrome.

Symptoms could get aroused by the eruption of frequent tragedies like the Assiout bus crash wherein tens of preschoolers died, or by seeing fellow Egyptians suffer through their day-to-day lives.

And sources of guilt feeling vary from kissing one's kids goodnight in their relatively safe beds to riding them to their private school in the morning where they will be seated in a 20-children-per -classroom setting while one is aware that the majority of Egyptian children are sent to public schools where each class is cramped with up to 100 children.

Fuming by Default

And then a tragedy like Assiout's strikes and your mere survival in this tough country till this day forces a mountain of guilt that overshadows every breath you take.

You walk through the streets of your middle class neighborhood in Cairo, with no proper sidewalks to protect you from fuming car drivers (if you visited Cairo once you will understand why every Cairene car driver is fuming by default) and you are greeted with piles of garbage from time to time; but you remember the millions of fellow Egyptians living in slums and trying to make their way through sewage water gone astray and you feel excessively lucky.

You ride your car through the lawlessness that is Egypt's traffic and you feel unnecessarily spoiled because many others' daily commute in search of bread and butter involves jumping through two microbuses, one after the other, then running after a public bus (Cairo's bus commuters have to run after public busses because many drivers merely reduce their speed rather than stop when they reach the bus stops), then riding an indefinable three-wheeler.  

Guilt feeling is also inescapable when you realize that you can find decent food to eat (despite reports indicating that basic food items in Egypt are dangerous anyway, possibly cancerous due to the use of illegal pesticides) while significant percentages of Egyptians have caloric deficiencies and a lack of access to proper foods according to the World Food Program. Many Egyptians don't even have access to potable water let alone nutritious food.

And then a tragedy like Assiout's strikes and your mere survival in this tough country till this day forces a mountain of guilt that overshadows every breath you take. That you dress up your kids for school is shameful. That you put food in their lunch boxes, watch them walk into school and thank God they are safe and pray to God they return home safely, every step you make reminds you of the families of the Assiout victims, and scores of other victims who have died in the long list of incidents caused by negligence, corruption, and injustice that this country has endured in the past decades.

Revolution Guilt

We are responsible for continuing the revolution, for insisting that bread, freedom, and social justice prevail.

Many of us thought that by taking part in the January 25 Revolution and supporting it in every way we can, we paid back all the victims, all the fellow Egyptians for whom we feel. But every passing day proves otherwise. The slogan chanted throughout the revolution was, "Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice," and none of the three has been attained.

In the midst of sadness and grief, we must continue to hold ourselves responsible. We are not responsible for Assiout's deaths, but we are responsible for continuing the revolution, for insisting that bread, freedom, and social justice prevail.

Some proponents of the post-revolution president, who came from the Muslim Brotherhood movement, are seeking to fend off criticism against him. They are asking us not to blame President Mohamed Morsi on the grounds that it is difficult to reform all the corruption and negligence that Mubarak cultivated deep into the country's institutions, bureaucracy, and culture.

True, reforming the ugliness of Mubarak's regime was not expected to come overnight, but at least a route in the right direction should have been taken, but it hasn't. For instance, Morsi and the prime minister he appointed Hisham Qandil have ignored many of the workers' strikes held by those seeking reform, cleansing of corrupt/Mubarak-loyal bosses, and quick enhancement of the services directed at poor citizens. Public transportation workers, teachers, doctors, and workers in various fields across the country, all demanded that the revolution's goals be taken seriously by Morsi, who so far controls both the executive and legislative branches of governance.

Cannot be Patient

But the president, the prime minister, and the Muslim Brotherhood movement have opposed the majority of workers' strikes. Morsi said in his speech in commemoration of the 6 October War that strikes hinder productivity. And Qandil recently told the Egyptian newspaper al-Watan that the government will confront strikes and "will not let its arm be twisted." They demand that reform seekers be patient, even in the absence of transparency, a clear plan on the government's part, or indicators that we are moving toward "bread, freedom, and social justice."

Many of us cannot comprehend why the ministry of transportation, the notorious ministry of interior, and all the government have not been cleansed of their corrupt bureaucratic body that have been harming citizens' interest since Mubarak's days.  

And we cannot be patient. Neither can we ask those who suffer and grief every day to be patient. Every more day of aimless wait could bring more train crashes, tragedies of all kind, and misery.

Our revolution had better continue till we eradicate our guilt feeling and Egypt's sadness.

Related Links:
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