In this column we have often discussed the past and the present, so let’s for a minute discuss the future. Make no mistake, this is not a column about hopes and aspirations and dreams of an unlikely future if we all did this or stopped doing that. This is about reality, and how despite everything that is happening, our future remains bright.
One could easily argue that the story of Egypt is a microcosm of what is happening all over the world. It’s a story of a bad government that refuses to be held accountable, of a people whose demands are constantly neglected, of services that are not provided, and a future that looks every day more like a threat than a promise. Whether it is Egypt, the UK, the US, Japan, you name it, it’s all the same everywhere: our future seems dark.
The news tells us this. How the future is bad and society is crumbling, how insanity is ruling supreme and cruelty is the new hallmark of humanity.
Constant news items keep popping on our timelines telling us that message over and over again. News pundits carry it, and their panel of experts usually agree. Researchers and behaviour psychologists all tell us that our doom is inevitable, and no one is arguing back. There is data that supports this, they tell us: diagrams, tables, statistics and info graphics that stoke our daily fears that all is but lost, and we might as well just kill ourselves now. What a bunch of hogwash.
Sure, the future that we have seen in 80s and 90’s Sci-Fi movies about dystopian future societies seems to be here, with all of its bells and whistles.
Oppressive Big Brother government? Check. Corporations that are stronger than governments? Check. Social morality going out the window to the horror of the middle class good folk? Check. A society more concerned with naval gazing than the real problems that surrounds them? Check, checkity check. But so what?
The truth is, the news has always been bad. There hasn’t been a point in history where the world didn’t seem like it was going to hell in a hand basket, and yet we keep trudging on. You say society is crumbling? I say society is evolving. You say the world is ending? I say every generation has said this since the sixth century, and we are still here, more populous than ever. Wars, murder rates, fatality rates in general, have never been this low at any other point in history. You say the dystopian huxleian future is here? I say that all of those books and movies about the future have dismissed two things in all of their world crafting: the internet and the human spirit, and how powerful they are together.
People throw around the phrase “we are more connected than ever”, usually in reference to how virtual our exchanges are or in lamentation of our quickly eroding privacy. But the truth is, we are more connected than ever in supporting each other. Social causes now transcend borders. Innovative ideas for the future are getting more funding than ever before, and it’s not coming from the governments or the corporations. It’s coming from people, crowd funded from all over the world in small donations aimed at helping those who have ideas and visions to get the support that they need.
They tell you that the future of Egypt is dark. They tell you that there is so much evil to fight, and that the government is not only not fighting it, but exacerbating the problem. I say that it’s a good thing. I say that this government, like any other government that will come and won’t actually attempt to solve our problems, will never stay in power and its laws or constitutions will end up either in the trash bin or completely ineffectual. I say that the evil in Egypt is at least tangible; that you can see it on the streets. You acknowledge it, and it acknowledges you back and that everything you do to fight it counts and has an impact, simply because there are not many people doing it.
Except now there are…
Let me tell you a story about a girl called May Gadalllah, who left a lucrative job in banking two years ago and has singlehandedly established an organisation in Aswan to uplift the Nubian community which she belongs to, and has so far, alone, acquired the almost EGP 2m worth of assets and assistance, and has over 30 volunteers working day and night with her.
Let me tell you a story about how Flat 6 Labs has just converted the closed Greek Campus into a miniature silicon valley to house all of the tech start-ups that are popping up all over the country. Let me tell you a story of an orphanage called “The Littlest Lamb”, which has been the brainchild of an extraordinary young woman called Mira Riad, which is unprecedented in terms of scale, programmes and size, will start housing hundreds of orphaned girls and take them away from all of that evil and cruelty that exists in our orphanage system. It has been entirely crowd funded and supported by people who simply goggled them over the past four years. Thanks to ordinary people from all over the world, this place now exists, and will be emulated, replicated and improved upon by others the moment they understand that it only takes a good idea and determination to change our reality.
Let me tell you a story of a future that is bright, not because of our leaders, politicians or governments, but because we, the people, simply will it to be so. And let me end this article with a prayer: from now until forever may our will be done.