Wednesday,21 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012
Wednesday,21 November, 2018
Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Off to the madhouse

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lu
Al-Ahram Weekly

The world has gone mad!  Its inhabitants are restless, angry or downright furious. Truth and harmony have been replaced by chaos and falsehood. Watching the news is likely to give you nausea, bring you to tears or send you off to the madhouse.  How to keep sane and cruise along in a sea of trouble requires a form of art or skill, to be invented, designed and constructed on a daily basis, for every new day, a new crisis is dumped upon us, and like it or not, we must cope.
Knowledge and culture are useful assets.  The sentiment against hideousness and rawness and the sense for equality and solidarity are added weapons in our artillery, to help us adequately cope and survive, until another day.
Who should we turn to, to guide us through this deep, dark chapter in our history?  We think of men like Martin Luther king Jr., of Nelson Mandela, of Gandhi. The world is aware that they too lived through turbulent times. They suffered racial persecution and cultural injustice, but they stood on solid ground. They were all men of reason and intelligence. They did not crouch, they did not retreat, they did not die. They embraced their challenges with the same passion as their convictions. Surely there were times when the load was too heavy, the struggle too strenuous.  There must have been times when they were tempted to lay down their arms and give up the fight, but they did not.  For such men this concept was inconceivable. What they did was transform their liabilities into opportunities and they came out on top.
To Martin Luther, non-violence was the means to victory. To Gandhi the spirit was stronger than the body. To Mandela, patience was the priceless tool. Which is the method to pursue, the road for us to follow?
This year is ending with a big bang of disarray and discontent.  Its scars have seared the heart and burned the soul of each and every one of us. The Arab spring was more damaging than the autumn storm that ravaged the Eastern shore of the US.  We weep for them in New Jersey and New York who are left destitute and homeless, as I am sure they weep for us so crippled and shattered, but still not vanquished.
Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a question trembles before us with each new day:”To be or not to be?” – which should it be?  To suffer “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, or to take that fatal ride “against a sea of troubles, and / By opposing end them”?
We choose “to be”!  We choose to survive through “the heartache and the thousand natural shocks”.
   We are now of a sober, albeit sorrowful frame of mind.  We find liberty and democracy irresistible.  We have been permeated with this grand doctrine of Social Justice and Equality.  We have touched it, we have tasted it for the first time, and oh, “how sweet it is”!   How precious is this thing we call Freedom!  How can we let go of it now?  After basking ever so briefly, in its warm and blazing light, we find ourselves in an untidy wilderness full of weeds and thorns.
This state of abysmal despair will not last.  Our national pride, so often diluted by race, culture and creed, has never been more acute.  A strong awakening of our identity has come to the fore. We are the children of the most ancient and the greatest civilization in the history of the planet.  We take pride in our Egypt, this dear and precious land, so unique in every sense. We shall not give in or give up. The struggle continues for her survival and ours.
At such a crisis in any man’s life, he does not ask himself how little do I believe?  How many miracles can I get off?  Never! He demands sharp armour, sharp weapons and an unwavering faith in his beliefs
Failures and disappointments, frustrations and disillusionment are inevitable, and for them we are prepared, but in life’s sea of troubles we must excel in thinking clearly and practically.  Psychologists call it the “T CUP”, (Thinking Clearly Under Pressure).  Remaining ‘cool” under pressure enhances our level of functioning to its utmost capacity.
Athletes who become champions create their own obstacles, relish the sensation of pressure. The” Incredible Hulk” became an unbeatable giant only under pressure.  Use the pressure rather than have it use you.  Sometimes the going gets tough, but that is when “the tough get going”  There is no one recipe for success, there is only the consistent burning desire never to give up until success is achieved.  This little secret always helps—“make yourself a promise and promise to keep it”.
The Churchill’s of the world always kept their head, when all around them were losing theirs.  Blood, sweat and tears paid in the end.  “Don’t do what’s easiest, do what’s best”..
If you can do all that, in this “mad mad  mad, mad world”, you can rest assured that : “ Yours is the Earth and everything in it”, and what is more, you will have survived, my friend!

“It isn’t important to come out on top. What matters is to be the one who comes out alive”
                         Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

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