“It gets worse before it gets better,” seems to be one way to cope with deteriorating situations. As one accepts the current as an increasing challenge, hope in a better tomorrow lures you to fight for the future. Experiencing Egypt for the last 30 years, one can certainly attest to the reality of that first part, worsening conditions year after year. One clearly remembers the question every year of how much worse it can get before it gets better. Some understood the mounting pressures and warned of severe consequences when it reached rock bottom. Knocking the leadership down in January 2011 was perceived as one such consequence.
Eighteen months onwards, there is mounting doubt about how much better much has become.
Expecting the worst was behind us and nothing less than the best ahead of us has been a grave disillusionment for most Egyptians today. Those who acknowledged the deterioration of life in Egypt and finally rebelled and those who supported the status quo and opposed any radical change are both skeptical of what lies ahead. Most of all, the majority who had suffered silently for decades are now suffering even more severely from crushed hopes for anything better.
The change so far is still a competition for power as the old opposition leads while the rest oppose; somewhat like the changing of the guards except for some slight cosmetic differences in appearance and mannerism. Meanwhile, all of Egypt’s ailments continue to increase and most of its hopes continue to decrease. It will get worse for certain along this path. The psychological trauma as a result of raised expectations and the stark reality is taking its effect. The everyday realities are no less devastating as the majority of the population watches in dismay their hopes for a better life dissolve.
It has become quite obvious that the changes aspired will not transpire easily or quickly. As many more Egyptians grasp the realities of the challenging situation, many begin to realize the levels of corruption that has grown over many years and continues regardless of the changing of the guards. Egypt’s real fight is one for a new life, not a fixed one. The old thinking, the old systems and surely the same old solutions will not hold up to the new reality. These will have to be unveiled and acknowledged to be dealt with. Habits die hard. More Egyptians will have to be the change they want. As the experienced leaders continue to dish out of the same way of thinking, as the proposed solutions continue to be reproduced from the past and as the old way of doing things persists with all its failings, the present must continue to appear more and more as the past. It is not.
Another new set of parameters is slowly building up. Beacons of light in new initiatives for education, health, environment, microenterprise and local government continue to work on the ground. As the newly formed groups become stronger, they are developing new creative solutions to tackle the change on the ground. They are the new additions to the old civic activities that have long realized they too needed to be renewed.
The new finds its way, in a small but persistent way.
The worst might not be over yet. Better will have to follow: slowly yet surely.