How personalizing issues negatively affects Egyptians’ lives
In a candid dialogue between a US marshal (played by actor Tommy Lee Jones) and a fellow law enforcement officer in the celebrated movie “US Marshals,” Jones’ character admitted taking his work personally, contrary to his department’s policy. Eventually, the marshal’s persistent pursuit allowed him to apprehend the suspect at the end of the movie — an innocent intelligence officer who, apparently, had been framed by his colleagues. It remains true that taking matters personally clouds people’s judgment and vision.
Whether in business, politics or social matters, Egyptians’ lives are very much driven by our individualistic approach. Personal perspectives determine our acts and behaviors, while facts or second opinions are completely disregarded. Obeying our cravings, coupled with a keenness to prove that we are right, matters more to us than success through actual achievements. This Egyptian cultural dilemma is not associated with any ideology or political affiliation.
Working on shaping our decisions to fit and reflect our personalities, we Egyptians tend to shake up the facts gently, perhaps without noticing, until they mirror our personal desires. This kind of manipulation is eventually backed up by our personal arguments, but it certainly does not stand on genuinely solid ground. What is more, immediate personal gains and thoughts of “what’s in it for me” often eclipse decisions based on personal biases in the first place.
Egyptians need to learn that taking matters personally comes at a high price, both for their personal life courses and for our national progress.
Personalizing matters is totally justified when socializing, which is meant for personal pleasure. However, business decisions affect our national economy and political viewpoints influence our national progress; in both cases, therefore, taking matters personally should not be an option. Furthermore, personalizing issues not only affects individual decisions, it also occurs among entities whose decisions should be driven by the principles of good governance. State entities and authorities tend to work on serving the respective needs of their organizations — at the expense of developing our nation.
The tendency to take all matters personally is triggered by emotions that lean toward ignoring existing facts and substance, which we Egyptians fail to acknowledge for the sake of fulfilling our individual aspirations. Intuition is needed sometimes, but it cannot always be the power pulling the wagon. Personalization is prompting Egyptians to perceive the entire world dynamic from their own perspective. As a result, individual citizens have developed their own private theories of universal dynamics, and they are unwilling to challenge their thinking.
There is a great difference between being ambitious and approaching issues from a purely personal standpoint: The former is meant to fulfill our desire to succeed and engender growth, while the latter serves to satisfy our egotism, often deceiving people into believing that their ideas or policies are not only correct, but also the most needed at the present time. Egotism often traps people into appointing affiliates who continuously praise their ideas rather than persons with merit who challenge these ideas.
Furthermore, culturally, the Egyptian society is not a dynamic one that is willing to accept divergent or contradictory propositions; we tend to defend our viewpoints at any price. While liberty gives people the right to pursue life in whichever manner suits them, maturity somehow fine-tunes their desires, working on over-riding the cravings of individuals in the interest of national progress. It is perfectly legitimate for citizens to pursue their dreams; however, pursuing dreams logically and scientifically will yield better results for our nation.
Egyptians need to learn that taking matters personally comes at a high price, both for their personal life courses and for our national progress. Therefore, we need to draw a line between fact and fiction (which many apparently find to be confusing). We must distinguish between our personal interests and the facts on the ground and make our decisions accordingly. Having preferences is a commendable trait, but such preferences should not be formed by manipulating the facts. We need to shake up and filter our outlooks to ensure that they are not constituted purely of personal desires and wishes.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom.