"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is Fatalism Catchy?

"Egyptians undergo an odd personality change behind the wheel of a car."

Insert paragraphs where the author describes a taxi ride through Cairo and out to visit the Pyramids.  He also mentioned how Egyptians are fond of driving at night without headlights then...

"Not surprisingly, Egyptian drivers are the most homicidal in the world, killing themselves and others at a rate twenty-five times that of drivers in America (and without the aid of alcohol). Motorists in other Arab countries are almost as driving-impaired. The only insight I ever gained into this suicidal abandon came from a speeding Kurdish driver, after he'd recklessly run over a bird.

'Allah wanted it dead,' he said. The same fatalism applies to passengers."


"Modern Egypt inherited many things from the pharaohs -- regal good looks, papyrus, bureaucracy -- but a talent for building isn't among them. Egyptians have the opposite of a Midas touch; everything they set their hands on turns to dust.  Even spanking-new skyscrapers seem, after a year or two, fragile and filthy lean-tos.  It isn't just a question of money or expertise; fatigue and fatalism have so corroded the culture that Egyptians have simply stopped caring.  Buildings collapse for lack of basic maintenance. Sewer lines explode, flooding whole neighborhoods. Dead horses lie rotting on the beach at Alexandria. And Egyptians muddle on, as they have for millennia, muttering malesh - never mind - and gazing toward Mecca in prayer."
  (pg. 85)


Tony and his wife, Geraldine Brooks who wrote Nine Parts of Desire (which I read and posted about here), received a report from the supervisor of their building. Although it was one of the nicest in the area, it had some fairly major problems. Yet ...

"None of this was news to us, except the fact that the building had a supervisor at all. Still, that someone had bothered to catalogue the building's woes was in itself remarkable.The response was not. Nothing happened.  What was worse, I found myself not caring.  The water main burst?  Malesh, I'll shower with bottled water. There are eleven tenants trapped in the elevator again? Malesh, I'll walk the twenty floors.  The mail's been tossed in a forgotten storeroom filled with dust and spiders? Malesh, I doubt there was anything important. And I'd been in Cairo only a few months. In another year, I feared, Egyptian inertia would so overwhelm me that I'd be clambering over mummified residents as I scrambled through the unlit stairwell."  (pg. 86)

So is fatalism catchy?  Do you tend towards being fatalistic? Is it healthy and good or something we should avoid?  Just this evening I was telling a friend that too many people I know come across as afraid of the unknown. OK, I was talking about Islam, about Muslims.  We just don't have many in my area and sometimes the impression I get is that we should be suspicious of "those people" because they are following that religion that wants to take over America and make us believe like they do.  But I was telling Friend that I want to not be fearful. Jesus told us not to be afraid.  I want to boldly love people and reach out to them and not fear them doing something to me. Basically I want to just love and leave the results of that to God.  Is this fatalism? 

Any thoughts on Tony's observations re: Egypt?

Notes from Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz; please note this book was published twenty years ago (1991) so Egypt may have changed a wee bit since the author noted his own experiences there


Amber said...

/puts on Frankenstein voice/

Fatalism baaaaaaaaaaddddd.

I think there's a difference between accepting that the world is the way it is, unfair and cruel, and fatalism. In the first, you aren't standing there whining, wondering *why* like some people who refuse to accept reality are. But you also aren't entirely abdicating care or responsibility for it, which is what fatalism is.

Susanne said...

Loved the voice! ;)

I appreciate your thoughts on fatalism and such! Thanks!

Becky said...

I agree with Amber. I like the old Muslim proverb; "Trust in God, but tie your camel". I think that reflects my own personal beliefs as well. There's a difference between trusting in God, having faith in God, and then acting plain stupid and not taking responsibility for your own actions. I believe God gave us a brain and a mind of our own and we are supposed to use it.

Susanne said...

Becky, ah! That's the Muslim saying I was thinking of while writing this post. it doesn't seem the author got that same vibe from his time in Egypt, but I like the saying!