Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Egypt or America...Which is Safer?

"Aren't you so relieved to be back in America, and out of that crazy, dangerous Egypt?"
For the record. NO.

I have heard that question repeatedly over the last 9 months, especially the past week with the Middle East breaking into severe chaos, yet again.

If there is one misconception I would like to clear up about my personal opinion in regard to Egypt's safety, it's this:  Egypt is a lot safer than America.

Remember...what many see is foreign media. What is heard is an often confused and misled interpretation. What is read, is someone quoting someone who is at times wrong. And what the news programs so confidently allude to as fact, is often a load of bologna. There's actually a lot they don't understand. 

It was during the Egyptian Revolution that I began to really see the nasty effects of the media, as I was living out reality in Egypt, but hearing fairy tales through the media. Things just weren't lining up. 

I don't normally feel educated about much when it comes to politics, and that is my fault. BUT, listening to the American media discuss Middle Eastern politics has made me cringe one time too many ...especially when they try to talk about Egypt like they know something.  They really don't know much at all, then again, neither do I. But I have lived there, so I know a little. 

I know that I keep finding myself sitting there, listening to the politicians and news programs discuss the problems in the Middle East from a purely western perspective, shaking my head. We can't understand their worldview...and honestly, at some point we just need to admit that. We can't westernize them, or their politics.

Now do I agree with Egypt? Absolutely not. In fact, I have never been so disappointed by a country that I think has so much potential...but just can't seem to get their emotions under control. Often I would describe living there like this: Living in Egypt is like living in a society overrun and dictated by twelve year old boys. And seeing my beloved Cairo on the news this week, I would stand by that statement. I am still hoping that the Egyptian society will evolve into somewhat of a more mature nature. But I am not holding my breath.

And I know for certain that what's being fed to the majority of Americans here, is often inaccurate and destructive.  All I can do is offer a bit of my own perspective. It's just that, my own set of beliefs based on my experiences.

I am narrowing in on one topic: My Safety...Egypt vs America.

 So, in order to put to rest all the confusion about whether my life was at risk in Egypt, I wrote out some questions:

1) Would I ever go walking around my American city alone at night? NO.

Would I ever go walking around Cairo, Egypt alone at night? I did all the time. Everyone does. There are so many people out and about, that it's difficult for you to be unsafe. You become so public,  just by being out.

2) Do you hear about rapes and murders of women in Egypt by intruders in their homes or cars? No

Do you hear about rapes and murders of women in the States by intruders in their homes or cars? YES

3) Do you hear about murdered, dead bodies waiting to be identified by forensic specialists in the USA? YES

Do you ever hear about the discovery of random murdered bodies in the Egypt? NO.

4) Do you let your children walk to the store or run errands in Egypt? YES.

Do we send out kids out to run errands in the USA? I don't about you, but I was never allowed to.

5) Do they have posters of missing children posted all over Egypt? No.

Do we have missing children ads all over America? YES

6) Did I ever fear that someone strung out on some drug will violently approach me in the streets  of Cairo? Never.

Do I fear drug addicts in the States? Everyday, when I see crazies and high people walking through downtown Portland.

7) Does America have visible police presence in the streets? No. If you need them, you have to call them.

Does Egypt have visible police presence? On every corner. And my Egyptian friends could not believe it when I told them we don't have security quite like this.

8) Do I fear being kidnapped, drug off somewhere, and raped in the USA? Absolutely, because it happens here.

Did I fear this in Egypt? Only once did this ever cross my mind.

9) Do people look out for one another (strangers) in America? Not generally, we are too busy minding our own business, giving everyone their desired personal space.

Do Egyptians look out for one another? Almost to a fault. :) Everyone is watching everything...it's hard to have any secrets there, especially from your neighbors.

10)  Do people in America notice if you are in trouble? According to statistics, and situations of individuals I have talked to, NO. People often don't notice others around them, and usually are too terrified to jump in and help, when they do.

Do Egyptians help one another when in trouble? Because it is common in Egyptian culture to be snoopy and nosy, especially about the foreigners living amongst them, they are the first to jump in and help, because they know stuff. I remember multiple occasions of the men in my area taking care of me when I encountered harassment on the street. It was their duty and they got it done, especially if the police wouldn't budge. 

I am not saying that Egypt is stable politically. It's not. Nor am I saying women don't get raped. They do. BUT, those scenarios of rape are generally from people they know, not crimes related to attacks by strangers. And in regards to political or social unrest causing deaths? Look at our school shootings, etc. We have it too. 

In Egypt, I knew the areas to avoid during protests. While under the headship of Mubarak, Egypt played hard ball against terrorism...they had zero tolerance for it.  In my mind, this put them a step ahead of the majority of the Middle East.

Now, I know what you are thinking, "But Christy, the sexual harassment of women in Egypt is OUT OF CONTROL! Remember, you told us yourself about this.  YES. Egypt has a nasty problem of allowing its men to act inappropriately and irrationally, behaving strictly by the influence of their hormones and egos...and mistreating women. It's simply "acceptable" there. UGH. Take this from me, someone who was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions, and verbally harassed every single day I was there. BUT, it's not every Egyptian man that does this. I knew some really good men while I was there and they detest the problem with sexual harassment associated with their society.

BUT...it doesn't go beyond the groping. Now, that does not make it okay. I am not excusing it. It's sick. Egypt has a lot of growing up to do, and is waaaaay behind the West in many areas. But when it comes to this girl feeling secure and safe, Egypt has America beat...by a long shot.

Friday, September 14, 2012

                         "After the Last Tear Falls" by Andrew Peterson, rocked it today.

After the last tear falls 

After the last secrets told 

After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone

After the last child starves

And the last girl walks the boulevard 

After the last year that's just too hard 

There is love 
Love, love, love 
There is love 

 After the last disgrace 

After the last lie to save some face 

After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue 

After the last dirty politician 

After the last meal down at the mission 

After the last lonely night in prison 

There is love 

 And in the end, the end is 
Oceans and oceans 

Of love and love again 

We'll see how the tears that have fallen 

were caught in the palms 
of the Giver of love
and the Lover of all 

And we'll look back on these tears as old tales 

Cause after the last plan fails 

After the last siren wails 

After the last young husband sails off to join the war 

After the last "this marriage is over" 

After the last young girl's innocence is stolen 

After the last years of silence that won't let a heart open 

There is love 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Never say never...

Never say never.

I will never go to college. 
(King College in Bristol, TN 2002-2006)

I will never teach elementary school in the United States. (Charlotte, North Carolina, 2006-2009)

I will never teach at a private Christian school.
(SouthLake Christian Academy 2006-2009)

I will never teach 2nd grade. (I actually said in my interview, "anything but 2nd")

I will never teach expats, I want local kids. 
 (CCS, my school in Egypt, served primarily expat kids)

I will never be in school administration. 
(assistant principal at CCS)

I will never understand people's preference to home school.    
(I trained and advocated for moms to home school in Egypt, Fall 2011)

I will never move back to Washington state. 
(Dec 15, 2012)

I will never live with my parents again, cause I am an independent adult. 
(Dec 2011-2012)

I will never prefer teaching adults over kids. 
(now I can't imagine not teaching adults)

I especially will not move back to the Middle East unmarried.  
(umm...more on this later as things continue to unfold)

I will never...well, some aren't blog post appropriate ;)

Oh dear...