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As You Think, So It Is - Your Beliefs Create Your Reality

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(the Divine in me, recognises and honours the Divine in you)


Sunday, August 8, 2010

What Are Your Limits?

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” 

-   Frederick Douglass

"There is a true story from the early 20th century that is told by the great writer Ahmed Amin in his excellent book “A Dictionary of Egyptian Customs and Traditions.” A peasant laborer acquired a vast fortune and bought a large boat, called a dahabia. He bought smart and expensive clothes and sat in his dahabia as it glided across the water. The man who owned the land he worked on, an arrogant and cruel-hearted man, saw him and ordered his workers to storm the dahabia and arrest the peasant. The peasant begged for forgiveness, swearing he would never sail the dahabia again if the landowner thought he had done wrong. The landowner accepted his apology, but then gave orders to his servants, who tied the peasant up and dragged him along he ground until his new clothes were covered with mud and ripped to shreds. Then they started to beat him until his knees, his feet, and his back were bleeding. 
To my mind, this story reflects a widespread pattern for the relationship between the despot and his victims. 
I remember this lesson when I follow what is happening in Egypt. Generations of Egyptians have grown up in the firm belief that submitting to injustice is wise, and that kowtowing to those in power is the best way to protect oneself from harm. Egyptians have long believed that objecting to the authoritarian system is sheer folly and will never change things for the better, and that those who resist injustice will be detained, tortured, and even killed. Egyptians have believed that coexistence with the authoritarian regime will save them from the harm it can inflict, trusting that the vast apparatus of repression which the state possesses only goes into action to crush those who stand in its way.

But now, perhaps for the first time in decades, Egyptians are waking up to the fact that submission, failing to speak out for justice, and being obsequious towards oppressors will not prevent injustice, but often add to it. Khaled Mohamed Said, the young man who was killed in Alexandria last month, was no political activist and did not belong to any movement aimed to change the regime; in fact he may never in his life have taken part in any demonstration. He was a completely peaceful young Egyptian, dreaming like millions of Egyptians of escaping by any possible means from his oppressive homeland. He was waiting to obtain a U.S. passport like his brothers, so that he could leave Egypt forever. 
On the evening of his death, he went to an Internet cafe to pass the time, again like millions of others. He committed no crime and broke no law, but as soon as he went into the cafe two plainclothes policemen pounced on him and without a word started beating him brutally. They banged his head on the edge of the marble table with all their might, dragged him out of the cafe and took him into a nearby building, where they continued to beat him and banged his head against the iron gate of the building until their purpose was fulfilled. Khaled's skull was smashed and he died in front of them. 
Regardless of the real reason behind this brutal murder, and regardless also of the successive statements issued by the Ministry of the Interior to justify the crime, all of which have turned out to be untrue, the clear meaning of this murder is that submission is no longer enough to protect Egyptians from repression. Khaled Said was beaten in the same way as young people demonstrating for freedom. Repression in Egypt no longer distinguishes between demonstrators and ordinary people, sitting in cafes and sleeping at home. The brutal murder of Khaled Said and the fact that the killers have escaped punishment plainly indicate that any police officer or any plainclothes detective can kill whomever he wants, and the apparatus of despotism will step in at once to exonerate the killer..." 
What will you risk for freedom?    Look around you - your freedoms are being taken away, one by one, day by day.   We are all economic and social slaves.   For how long will you just quietly submit?

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