Egyptians: Knowing much and doing little

We are content to state our opinions, but refuse to assume responsibility for our actions and behavior

Mohammed Nosseir
Mohammed Nosseir
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Millions of Egyptians claim to have an abundance of information on almost every topic, yet their ability to implement this knowledge is extremely limited. This should suggest to Egyptians that our claim to knowledge is not quite authentic; an essential component of knowledge is the ability to apply it effortlessly and speedily. Our habit of voicing our opinions and arguing about every single issue in life, without taking any action, reflects ignorance rather than boundless knowledge.

Our imports are roughly three times the size of our exports, which should make it clear to us that the ratio of our contribution to our consumption is 1:3. If we were really sufficiently knowledgeable in various industries, our expertise would have helped us to be self-sufficient at least.

The inability to move Egypt forward has always been a two-sided accusation. Egyptians often accuse their rulers of not doing their best for the country, while our consecutive rulers blame our lack of progress on our society’s illiteracy and rapid population growth. We have been unable to genuinely change the ruling mechanism, and the ruler either lacks the competence or will to move society forward. We are content to state our opinions, but refuse to assume responsibility for our actions and behavior.

Not recognizing the limitations of our knowledge has prevented us from noticing the deficiencies in our society, which include altering facts to better serve our ignorance, an inability to assess issues impartially, and a tendency to hasten the implementation of ventures that lack fundamental validation.

We are content to state our opinions, but refuse to assume responsibility for our actions and behavior.

Mohammed Nosseir

To be able to move forward, we must acknowledge where we stand in this world regarding innovation, information, university rankings and the number of hours we spend reading. Our rankings are very low in all of the above, so the very foundation of knowledge in Egypt is completely inadequate.

Under former President Hosni Mubarak, the government exerted substantial efforts to expand the number of public libraries in an attempt to get Egyptians to read more. Current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi recently launched the world’s largest digital library, which will enable Egyptians to access a magnificent amount of knowledge in all fields.

However, Egyptian decision-makers do not make use of these channels of knowledge; decisions made by rulers and their executives tend, instead, to be based on their cravings. These knowledge hubs are only meant to be tangible manifestations of the ruler’s achievements, not obligatory paths toward the articulation of decisions or policies.

Egypt has a spectacular history that is recognized worldwide, making Egyptians extremely proud of themselves. A tiny segment of our society does possess a high degree of knowledge, of which we should be proud.

However, the government often deliberately marginalizes this segment, making sure that it is not in a position to make decisions. Sadly, also, these knowledgeable persons are sometimes reluctant to engage in efforts to elevate an ignorant society. We must work on placing truly knowledgeable citizens in positions where Egypt could better capitalize on their expertise.

All nations have their ups and downs, but Egypt has been on the decline for the last few decades. Our strength in society should not be derived from our ability to argue continuously (which does not move us forward one inch).

We need to be more open to truly learning how the world functions, and willing to assume our responsibilities. Acknowledging that we know less might give us the desire to know more. Claiming to know all will always keep us locked in behind others, with no real knowledge and no chance to progress.

Mohammed Nosseir is an Egyptian liberal politician who advocates for advancing liberalism, political participation, and economic freedom. Mohammed was member of the higher committee at the Democratic Front Party from 2007 to 2012, and then member of the political bureau of the Free Egyptian Party till mid 2013. Mohammed advocates for his work through providing the Egyptian government with a number of schemes to better reform its government institutes, as well as he is a regular contributor to various Egyptian newspapers. Mohammed also has extensive experience in the private sector, working with a number of international companies assisting them in expanding their businesses in the Middle East. Mohammed graduated from Faculty of Commerce, Ain Shams University, Cairo (1986); he participated at Aspen Seminar on Leadership, Values and Good Society (2011), Eisenhower Fellow, Multi-National Program (2009) and Stanford Fellow for Democracy, Development & Rule of Law (2008).

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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