Looking in on Cairo and Los Angeles; Who is on first?


It is common, indeed natural, to think you, your family or your country is more right and better than others.  It seems that every person, every family, every tribe and the citizens of every country feel exactly the same way – we are right.   That tendency can be a trap and keep one from seeing or speaking the truth on occasion – and a trap that countries as well as people fall into.  There is an editorial today in Der Spiegel criticizing the United States for just that.  It says we always think we know best and are constantly preaching to other countries. Der Spiegel says we have some serious problems of our own and we have less than a perfect country or government; the article suggests we might focus on our own problems instead of telling everyone else how to solve theirs.  There are many times when it is easy to agree with that sentiment.

Agreeing with Der Spiegel‘s sentiments can be a problem for me; fighting the natural ego-centric tendency tends to make me schizophrenic.  Sometimes I think we are right and sometimes I think we are just being righteous.  Attempting to be objective and rational I question my nationalistic thoughts relentlessly – or so I like to tell myself.  One the other hand, I am constantly finding things in the international news that reinforce my righteous nationalism.   A few days ago in a schizophrenic frenzy, I was ranting about the way we put sports figure, actors and business people ahead of what I was calling the real news – like the events in Syria and Egypt.  Matt Cain pitched a perfect game, but Basshar Assad was pitching perfect death – which is more important?  Clearly I thought that baseball was not very important in that context and we were off base giving the game so much media coverage.

Maybe it had nothing to do with which was the real news; a friend suggested to me that Americans are simply tired of the constant bad news from the Middle East; he may be right.  But what about Egypt, isn’t the election more important than a baseball game?  Besides, it isn’t bad news like the news from Syria is it?   See, I can’t let it go.  Well, part of me can’t let it go, the other part is eager to move on.

Elections might be more important than baseball, but Egyptians don’t know how to do elections do they?  The other side of my twisted, conflicted  schizophrenic thinking says – don’t we have a better way?   Egypt at the moment is a mass of conflicting information and claims – Mubarak is dead, no Mubarak is not dead, he is recovering.  Mohamed Morsi has been elected president,  no Ahmed Shafiq has been elected president.  The army is going to turn over the reins of government to the newly elected president, no the army is not going to turn over any real power to anyone.  It must be very confusing and stressful to live in a country where you don’t know who is alive and who is not, who is president and who is not – who is on first base and who is not on first.

Here I am again thinking our system just better ( and in this context I can expand the category and let all of the European democracies into the tent of righteousness with us).  If an ex-president dies, don’t we know it?  Okay, there is the argument that we did not know when Ronald Reagan’s mind slipped away – but we did know when his heart and his presidency stopped.  We know who is elected president within hours of the closing of the polls – okay there was the time the Supreme Court was called in to help resolve the issue, but that is once in a couple of hundred years.  For the most part, the election process is transparent and straightforward – in the United States and in Europe.

So, as long as no one in Egypt know who is on first, I have another plan for today. Tonight, instead of listening to any more news from the Middle East – a thing I did for hours yesterday, thinking I would hear something definitive about something and did not – I am going to listen to the San Francisco Giants play the Los Angeles Angels.  At least I will know who is on first base, that is when someone is on first – a thing I do not wish on a single Angel, but hope happens many times for the Giants.  Tomorrow, just as most days when I check the scores from previous day’s games, I will check in on  Egypt and see if anyone knows who is on first yet.


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June 2012
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