Let’s Disagree to Agree

Dear Seif,

My facebook page is bleeding. Some of my friends are in the process of amputating each other with cutting words, or throwing each other down the cyber black hole of facebook blocking. The conflict happening over who supports the MB and who doesn’t, who supports the military and who doesn’t, who believes in conspiracy theories and who doesn’t, who has blood on their hands and who doesn’t, who started the violence and who didn’t… it’s not just on the streets anymore; it’s right at home. With every press of the refresh button, there is a fresh war of words being shuttled.

Two of my dearest friends who have known each other for around 20 years have just severed their friendship after one insulted the other. Their difference? One supports the MB and the other one doesn’t. The trigger? A status. Just like that.

Then I scroll down the feed to read the statuses and comments coming from my other friends. I learn a lot about them by what they choose to share or post – some shock me; some inspire me. I realize that a number of my friends have polar opposite ideologies than mine. In the beginning, it jolts my brain. I do a rewind of the tape of life we shared together and I look for signs that might indicate how they came to think this way. I put myself in their shoes and try to see through their eyes. Are they seeing something that I haven’t been exposed to? Am I thinking too narrowly?

Reading the statuses of someone I knew for two years made me feel like my reading-people-skills were nil. He was ready to go on a jihad against the infidels: the anti-Morsi camp. He wrote with such passion and conviction. Some people supported his views, others wanted to rattle his shoulders and cry out, “Wake up!” His conviction was that anti-Morsy supporters were the enemies of Islam and represented Western views. He reached the point where he was going to the protests to give up his life if he had to, in order to fight for Islam and the righteous leader, Morsi.

Another friend of mine was one of Morsi’s advisors. Although we differ in our thinking, I deeply respect him as a person. I remember writing a status back in December 2012: “I wish that the Muslim Brotherhood didn’t carry the name “Muslim” in its title. I don’t see anything truly Muslim in their actions.” My friend asked a simple question, “How is that?” I decided to inbox him to avoid any potential warfare from my friends against him; and to protect myself as well in case he responded in anger. I explained my point of view and he received it with an open mind. Although we did not agree with each other on some points, we were at least able to understand the reasons behind our thoughts. We did agree that we wanted what was best for the country and that we prayed for a better future. Our inbox chat was as civil as can be, and I respect his mind for that. It wrenched my heart to learn that he was detained on July 3rd; it wrenched my heart even further when I saw a picture of his four children holding up a sign that read “We miss baba” two weeks later.

My facebook feed is bursting with mind-combusting videos that “prove” that the other side is lecherous and conniving. They contradict each other. Clips from the news or interviews are shared – it is clear from the source what the content will be. A clip from Al Jazirah Egypt? Totally pro MB. Clips from CBC? Totally anti MB. And foreign news channels such as CNN are shameless. For some reason, they anger me the most as they invent a whole new parallel world. And so on and so forth. Watching those clips and videos to try to arrive at the truth is like being lost in a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Which is the real story? Which ending is the real ending? Unfortunately, unless I am there in person to witness what is going on with my own eyes, then I can’t really trust the news I’m receiving. It is that bad.

Facebook – something that I surf through to keep a tab on my family and friends while continents away – is now a home delivery of ugliness. I hope that my friends realize that the “let’s disagree to agree” attitude will only serve to create more rifts, more stubbornness, more digging in the heels, and more of a dictatorship of thoughts. When a former classmate and I diverged in thinking in an inbox message, he wrote something very respectful. He wrote, “Let’s agree to disagree.” We were clearly not going to align in our thinking, nor did we have to. But at least we preserved our friendship.

We are losing too many Egyptians to this ugly conflict. Do we have to lose our friends, too?



Your disappointed mother, Rania

Published in: on July 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Tolerance is a word and ideology that can only be used by mature and educated people. Unfortunately there are a whole lot of people that are neither mature…nor educated.

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