In Selected Opinion

Celebration, of the Eid, is marked by sharing God’s gifts with the poor, caring about the most vulnerable, having compassion for the hungry and giving to the ones in need. Simply put, persons of fame become equal to those with no recognizable name.


While some of us are wired to be generous, others manipulate religion to promote hate, cruelty and brutality. Can anyone imagine that in the name of religion the chest of a victim and the raw heart is eaten by the killer; something thought to be the domain of wild animals? I watch with tearful eyes, the burning of more than a hundred Churches and institutions, destroying Christian’s homes, kidnapping their daughters, accusing them falsely of heinous acts and informing them that they must leave since they are undesirables.


Generosity of spirit should not be limited to a season or a certain celebration but should become the norm as we deal with each other. Personal reward and not greed should become the whole mark of our shared humanity. Yes, the natural lottery is unfair. Thomas Jefferson, the main writer of the American Constitution called it “natural aristocracy among men, the grounds of which are virtue and talents.”


Some of us are healthier than others, having higher IQ, are hard workers, more focused or much more innovative than others. These individuals must be rewarded for these gifts. However Nations are measured by how they care about the most vulnerable among their citizens. It pains me that the wealth gap is getting wider over the years in developed and less developed Nations.


In his recent book “The Price of Inequality,” the Nobel Laureate, Joseph Stiglitz describes how ruinous this increasing inequality is for economy and Society; fewer people can afford the products of the affluent, crime increases, jealousy prevails and the ability to grow becomes limited. The inevitable result will be decline in education and innovation and the increase in violence. This phenomenon is reinforced by the documentary of Robert Reich, the previous Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration in America, where he recites that the top 1% owns 20%, and the top 10% controls 90% of the economy.


But how would that pertain to Egypt? Let us look at Chile as an example. Forty years ago it was ravaged by violence; General Pinochet, the dictator, killed more than 40,000 of the citizens and established limits on speech, expression, killed jobs and was taking the country downhill. Now Chile is a bustling democracy enjoying freedoms never dreamt of, steady progress and building. More importantly, it has a system that cares about the least among its citizens. Its current President Sabestian Pinera was the only visitor to America allowed to sit where previous American Presidents used to conduct business.


Egypt is no less than Chile.


Yes, Egypt needed major painful surgery in order to progress. However, in my view, freedoms should be granted to the multitudes, crimes should be subject to the laws and a system of checks and balances is sorely needed. I have been against parliamentary elections at the present but many of my friends indicated that such would be impossible. It is imperative that religious leaders confine their activities to fulfill the spiritual needs of their followers and that they refrain from disparaging other religions or become involved in politics.


Egyptians want to see results, but they have to be reminded that destruction is immediate but building takes time and proper planning. They deserve to be reminded that destruction is much easier and faster than building and that they must be patient to see the fruits of change.


Professor Lotfy Basta MD, FRCP, FRCPE, FACP, FACC, FCCP, FAHA….


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