We’re Not Just Losing Our Salaries, We’re Losing Our Humanity

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What’s the one factor that has had all Egyptians on their toes, no matter where they stood on the vast political spectrum? What have all Egyptians agreed was the worst thing to happen to them ever since Al Bernameg stopped airing? The dreaded inflation.

It’s not just the universal excuses that sprung from this economic suicidal mission. It’s not hearing the guy who sells sweet potatoes down the road say he increased prices because the dollar rate has risen, or finding out that the stock market apparently affects the tip-demanding busboy as well. It’s not that grocery trips to your local supermarket have you feeling like you’re paying for a proper Ramadan feast, yet you look down on your cart and it looks like you’re buying groceries for a family consisting of an old lady and her overweight cat at best. That is not even why you’re angry. You’re angry because everyone else is angry.

Psychological theory suggests that surrounding yourself with negativity will ultimately lead to what is called the “Negativity Bias,” which lets negative events affect you more greatly. Raj Raghunathan’s book titled “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?” deals with this question thoroughly. The most common solution for this phenomenon would be: walk away from negative people! The problem is, they’re everywhere!

“Good morning” is something heard less and less. People wear frowns as often as they wear underwear. You can identify when someone has just had a salary cut, had to pay eight EGP more for his 1/4 kilo of luncheon meat and couldn’t pay his wife’s pricey phone bill again because she just had to talk to her friend on the phone about how expensive the phone bills have become for hours on end. You can tell all that just by looking at his face. You don’t stare into eyes anymore; you’re looking into eery black holes of grief. Just standing in line in front of the cashier is like waiting for your death sentence. And it’s like you can hear faint, haunting murmurs everywhere you go just to realize it’s folks cursing a mutual enemy: Tarek Amer, Egypt’s Central Bank Governor who’s been ultimately linked to the decision of what many people believe to be economic assisted suicide.

So what does Amer have to say about this? In an interview with Bloomberg he said: “We’ve been aggressive in our monetary policy, and this has been resisted a bit. But we thought it’s important so we can get our shop fixed very quickly.” No, Mr. Amer, you cannot be an Egyptian and use the phraseology ‘very quickly’ and expect us to believe you.

We’ve been aggressive, but not just in our monetary policy. The Numbeo database suggests that crime rates in Egypt have increased by a staggering 73.44 percent during the last three years. Now, like any statistic carried out on our Egyptian streets, the data is very obscure; crime could be underestimated as many insiders point out. The point is, it’s not far fetched or illogical to presume that with soaring inflation rates come higher costs of living, lower salaries and thus a higher need for financial sources. Many Egyptians opt to make petty crimes and even organized crimes their last resort. Without conflating causation and correlation, it is quite safe to assume that with a sudden dramatic change in policy without sufficient prior elucidation to the public comes significant scrutiny from the people. If they don’t understand what the government is doing and what the reasons are, they will start questioning authority, they will stop respecting it and they will lose faith in it for good.

This is the shift we’re witnessing today. The people feel like the government is hurting them, their vengeance is achieved by hurting the government. It’s not fact or research; it’s happening right outside your car window on your way home. The way people treat each other, the lack of consideration, lack of empathy that is somewhat ubiquitous in our day is indicative of a very real sociological devolution that consists of merely acting out of violence and frustration.

The officials better figure out a plan to regain their credibility, because with decreasing commodities comes the increasing necessity to compensate for that. And it is certainly far more difficult to maintain peace in a nation of people sans humanity, because they act as if they have nothing to lose.

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