Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. Everything has been figured out, except how to live. One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished. The line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life. There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are, that is the fact. When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow by too.Suddenly you see people appear who speak and then go away; you plunge into stories of which you can't make head or tail. You'd make a terrible witness. It is true that people who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Luckily, I only have a few...

Dr Shaw is a lecturer in Further Education at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She also offers philosophy courses at the School of Continuing Education, Lifelong learning, at the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she has completed her Doctorate in philosophy with a focus on existentialism, the equilibrium doctrine and narrative. She has worked as a teacher of English and Comparative literature and Philosophy at The American University in Cairo, Egypt where she also obtained her BA (Hons). Dr Shaw has an MA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of East Anglia where she also taught on a number of humanities subjects. Whilst working in North Wales in Further education, she gained a PGCE aimed at teaching in FE and HE sectors. Dr Shaw moved to Liverpool in 2010 where she now resides.

Interests: Existentialism, Narrative, Comparative Literature, Feminist Thought, Public Speaking, Arab Existentialism, Philosophy of Education, Art, Music, Film and Theatre, Greek Mythology, Existential counsellor and psychotherapist.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Almost 10 Days in Cairo

Almost 10 days in Cairo and already feel my blood pressure is rising, my skin tired and dull and my head full of nonsense. The anxiety that is second nature to the everyday Egyptian has finally taken its toll on me. 7 years living abroad has certainly changed me and wiped away the tolerance that I used to have to be able to endure every day struggles. The state of the Egyptian person in 2014 is sadly a pessimistic dull one. He/She is stressed by the sum of direct or indirect forces that are all against his/her will on a daily basis.

Day one began with the lack of water to wash my face. The land of the Nile has suddenly fell short of providing water for its citizens. It has also fallen short, as I latter on discovered, of proving many more "things" which a normal person would count as "basic human needs", by this I mean, not just water, but also electricity, comfortable shelter and food that does not carry the possibility of killing you. I was walking in the street today and suddenly a branch of a tree fell on my mother who was walking a few steps behind me (both on the pavement- which is either full of rubbish, broken tiles or advertising boards or signs from various shops) I could not help myself not to say "even the force of nature is objecting to my existence here" I joked.

By day 7 all I was thinking about is to "survive". I need to provide as a mother for my child and suddenly my very existence as a human being has been hit hard by this life that I witness and for so long once called "home". This is no longer home, I thought to myself. It is hell on earth. If my dad is already considering to put bars on the house windows to stop thieves coming and at every opportunity reminds me to be cautious with people, then what kind of life is this? I do not think anyone deserves to live in a prison or feel threatened to such an extent. Neither should one doubt the other for the sake of sheer doubt and being cautious. My anxiety increasing day by day and all I can think of is to keep my son from suffering. My mum jokes "this experience will make him a man". I cannot help but think that this will backfire at any moment and I will end up cutting the trip short and shipping ourselves back home urgently. Why make a 2 years old suffer when there is a life already out there where he does not need to suffer? In whose book is it written that we should suffer and endure such inhumane conditions, neglect and poor services ?

The reality of the situation, from the few gatherings I attended so far and my observation, is that the middle class no longer exists and what is now dominant is the lower classes who dictate the future of the country and the new social norms. This is of course going to be a disaster in my view as someone who values education and rational thinking than believing in nonsense and brain washing the masses for personal gain. The generation of new youths today whom I observed seems to be more stressed than I feel in these past few days. I feel sorry for this generation who became men and women in a society that expects too much of them and pressures them in every way. A man is pressured to provide and make no mistakes as far as the family is concerned, whilst the woman is brainwashed to be almost enslaved by these family norms into a role that leaves no room for her to shine in any way or even for her to feel her own existence. She is entirely responsible for the children and for driving the family forward although the man, who presumably is the driver (as far as people are concerned) takes a back seat and only criticise and make remarks. It is daunting for me to think that one day I was about to make the same mistake of falling into this role. Or even to think that anyone, even if my mother, could have influenced me enough to see myself in such a role or living with such a person. Life to me has always been built on an equal partnership in every way.

Anyway, this is my first rant of the trip and possibly more will follow soon...

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