Incomplete sentences and defective verbs

Abdel Latif el-Menawy
Abdel Latif el-Menawy
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Any success is linked to the completion of the action and any partial success is also partial, and sometimes total, failure. Any incomplete sentence is a defective one, for no matter how eloquent it remains unable to convey the intended meaning and becomes like good intentions with which the road to hell is paved.

We have been in the habit of not completing our sentences both on the personal and the public levels. We start in an impressive manner then become unable to continue with the same force. The outcome, thus, becomes contingent upon external factors, for we initiated an action but did not pursue it and we uttered a sentence but did not complete it.

The idea of incomplete sentences has been haunting me for a while, especially as I followed the developments in the Egyptian street and the opposition in the past few months. That led me to reread something I had written 10 years ago about the same habit that is deeply-rooted in us. I have even chosen the title “incomplete sentences” for one of my books and which I started with today’s article.

We have been in the habit of not completing our actions since the toppling of the former regime; for the regime was toppled but the habit stayed. That is why we were an easy “prey” for the only organized faction at the time and which had one single and clear aim: monopoly of power. This group took advantage of that habit and our inability to finish what we had started and how easy it is to get us distracted. They did that first with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which was unable to complete the action despite the good intentions of most of its members. This is what led us to where we are now.

Youths are also guilty of the same habit, for they were led in the wrong direction when they unconsciously became a tool in the hands of this group and gave in to the group’s attempts at creating a rift between them and the army that constituted the last fortress. When youths started waking up to the trap in which they and all of us fell, they stopped taking positive actions and retreated once again behind their computer screens.

The same applies to civilian and liberal forces whose incomplete actions and hesitant stances became obvious in the past few months. They start with full force and absolute enthusiasm then withdraw and become unable to complete the action. The recent protests that were staged in front of the presidential palace in Cairo are what made summon back the idea of incomplete sentences.

The anger that prevailed in these protests and the escalation that followed demonstrated beyond doubt that power is to the people and that the people are the actual decision-makers. Yet, this massive wave was broken on the rock of reluctance and lack of determination as civilian powers suddenly decided to pull back in a confusing and suspicious manner. Those powers are now giving the impression that they are willing to offer concessions, but the dispute is over the degree and type of those concessions. Here, the sentence is incomplete and the verb is defective once more. Yet, this time there is a benefit gained, because the street has now proved that it is capable of outdoing the factions that claim to be its leaders.

Abdel Latif al-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of "Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak," a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

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