Ahmad Moein #labels: Aesop, Aesop's Fables, Cognitive Dissonance, Egypt, Egyptian Revolution, Jan25, Politics, Tahrir
They say Aesop was a Greek writer who lived some 600 years before Christ, they say he was credited for a number of succinct stories that feature animals or mythical creatures and that his stories or "fables" almost entirely held moral lessons. Yet, Aesop's existence remain uncertain, so does the existence of Shakespeare, Swedish trolls and the monsters of Loch Ness. But, it doesn't matter, his fables survived and are a vivid proof that someone must have written them, be it Aesop or a bunch of Aesops!
Historians tend to doubt the existence of many historical figures and events, but what do they know, they even doubt the existence of Orcs claiming they are just a fragment of J. R. R. Tolkien's imagination: Bollocks, I have seen many Orcs in Egypt during the early days of the revolution, mostly in uniform, some even wore shades and spoke in Arabic, but it's not within the scope of this article to prove that Orcs exist! I saw them and 3arabawy has a full set of pictures of them in his famous Piggipedia!.
Bottom line, some of humanity's most doubted figures (like Aesop) must have existed. It's what they left behind that matters the most. Maybe they had different names or different personas, but the smell is always the same wherever they landed, the smell they enforced on time and place: The smell of hope. On the other hand some of humanity's worst nightmares (like Tolkien's Orcs) exist, maybe with different names, different ears or a different lingo but the smell is always the same wherever they land, the smell they enforce on time and place: The smell of fear, and mind you, both hope and fear have very distinctive smells!
One of Aesop's fables: "The fable of the Fox and the Grapes" reads as follows:
"Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked, 'Oh, you aren't even ripe yet! I don't need any sour grapes.' People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain would do well to apply this story to themselves."
The fable discusses what's known in social psychology as cognitive dissonance, which is simply the state of agitation caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The fox is hungry and would have loved to reach the grapes and satisfy his hunger, yet Alas he couldn't and his only way out was to discredit the grapes thus relieving his mind from the agony caused by holding those two equally strong yet contradicting thoughts: Hunger and the inability to reach the grapes. Falsely claiming the grapes were sour resolves the conflict and the fox can move on with his life.
Prior to January, 25th 2011, Aesop's fox dominated the Egyptian political scene. To the majority of Egyptians, ousting the regime seemed impossible, the NDP were taking all the leading positions in the country, the police were brutal, resilient and apparently invincible and the choices the nation had for a valid successor of "he who must forever not be named" were limited only to his son or a bunch of unknowns who lacked both the popularity and the vision to run for office. (Ayman Nour might be an exception but again Ayman Nour was/is not Saad Zaghloul). The cost of a revolution -if ever- is dire and therefore the nation resorted to Aesop's fox's logic: A revolution is sour grapes!
The revolutionary individuals (hardly "forces" back then) lost hope and therefore had nothing else of value to lose. Years of brutalization, suppression, wire-tapping, web-tapping, arbitrary detention, torture, fake trials and false imprisonment has left the majority of them with no other option but to revolt. The question was when. They were the least of all the parties in the Egyptian political scene to suffer from cognitive dissonance simply because they already suffered too much for nothing, suffering for the sake of a revolution sounded logical and maybe poetic. They knew that freedom had a price and were willing to pay it, if you won't count what they have already paid in advance. The grapes are not sour at all!
The rest of the nation suffered cognitive dissonance with varying degrees of acuteness. Though freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the ousting of "he who must forever not be named" were legitimate demands, the price was too high and they preferred to await an "impossible" reform from "within" rather than help or take part in enforcing a reform to take place. The grapes were very sour!
Today, cognitive dissonance still characterizes the Egyptian silent majority, probably for different reasons and on different issues. But, day-by-day the confusion is lessening, the fox has already reached the grapes and no matter how hard it was to reach it, the fox can eat and satisfy his hunger and the day will come when he will look back at this particular period of his life and smile. The grapes were worth every drop of sweat and every drop of blood and "three pairs of sneakers in my case!". The Muslim brotherhood are probably the only political group not suffering from cognitive dissonance, their pragmatism and ability to enjoy the taste of someone else's grapes or even claim the grapes to be their's makes them delusional rather than anything else!
As for SCAF, Cognitive dissonance is bound to harass them for a while for they still believe they own the vine, the grapes and probably the fox!