The ‘second thoughts’ that Egyptians lack
The dilemma of the Egyptian thought process does not only lie in the rigid inflexibility of respective individual opinions, but more in the tendency to articulate opinions that have no valid substance. The ability to express opinions loudly and assertively (rather than knowledgably) determines whether Egyptian citizens’ thoughts are heard. When people are that committed to their outlooks, it is very difficult to prompt them to have “second thoughts.”
Egyptians believe that entertaining second thoughts on any given issue is equal to undermining their social status; revising their outlooks would therefore be shameful behavior. We tend to first insist on the veracity of our initial, spontaneous points of view and then search for justifications of these opinions (even if they are already invalidated). Ideas, which should be considered independent thoughts that mature through others’ inputs, have become the victims of Egyptians and are often used inappropriately or immaturely.
Observing Egyptian ministers regularly reporting only their achievements makes me wonder if they are aware of their failures
Human beings’ lives are made up of achievements and failures. People naturally tend to exaggerate their successes and play down their failures. However, understating or ignoring our faults prevents us from noticing and overcoming them. “Let me sleep on it” is a universal expression that serves to give people more time to consider a given issue thoroughly. The belief that ideas constitute an essential part of our personalities prompts us to defend them to the death. This cultural drawback results in our inability to have second thoughts.
Senior representatives of the Egyptian government all tend to repeat the same socioeconomic phrases. This is not because their views are in complete harmony; it is due to the common criteria, stemming from its own singular thinking, that the state applies to the selection and promotion of its senior officials. Most government officials don’t dare to exert any effort to produce new ideas that might be seen to challenge the state’s perspective.
Observing Egyptian ministers regularly reporting only their achievements makes me wonder if they are aware of their failures. I used to attend numerous political party meetings, at the end of which individual impressions concerning the results were often very different. Not knowing what we have agreed upon certainly reflects a lack of basic communication skills and a clear defectiveness in teamwork. Meanwhile, not allowing second thoughts into our thinking process prevents us from realizing our drawbacks.
Apparently, establishing a dialogue among Egyptians is a “fearful task.” We believe that, by prolonging our rhetoric, we are being more persuasive — unaware that our insensibly long speeches could lead to losing our audience’s attention completely. Over-expressing ourselves reduces our comprehension of other citizens’ perspectives; thus, we continue to operate with our initial thoughts, even if they are redundant.
In Egypt, we live in small, isolated circles, wherein a few individuals who share the same thoughts tend to exchange their common opinions with the aim of endorsing one another. Brainstorming sessions among diversified groups often conclude in strong waves of disagreement driven by willful personalities, while our minds are completely absent. As a result, people leave group meetings with ideas that are more rigid than the opinions they initially held.
Questioning the effectiveness of our initial thoughts will better help us to tap into the value of second thoughts. Acknowledging that we have a deficiency in our pattern of thinking, wherein we refuse to rely on one another to build up ideas, is the first move toward producing second thoughts. Egyptians need to learn to exchange thoughts with one another until they formulate a mature, practical idea. God has created zillions of different minds – but not a single perfect one.
- Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir