The I Love Egypt Challenge: Building better Relationships


Photo Credit: Tom Chandler on Flickr.com

The future of Egypt is in the hands of Egyptians. Not the rich and famous, not the few and powerful - just the ordinary Egyptians in the streets, one by one. Every day we see that we have the opportunity to do some little good for our beloved Egypt. Of course the most important things we can do for each other begin in the home. In our hearts we know that the children are the key to everything - God Himself has put this truth into our hearts - and we feel it when we see the children smile.

Today I would like to ask you to consider the future of our beloved Egypt. Of course this future begins with our women and it continues through all our relationships - but let's consider our women today. Some weeks ago Mr. Sisi explained in a speech that every woman in Egypt is MY mother, MY sister and MY daughter. Ultimately the understanding and daily practice of this truth is the foundation on which we can grow our relationships in our new Egypt.

Before starting this project I did a quick search on Arabic words for Love and was amazed by the vast number and variety. Not only are there many words for Love in Arabic but there are also a vast number of expressions that convey each kind of love in all its variations and situations. Very neat!

Ancient philosophers looked at all these many variations and situations and divided them into four general kinds of love: Empathy, Friendship, Erotic love and a special one called, in Greek: Agape. In English it is sometimes called Unconditional Love. While the other three are interesting it is only this fourth kind of love, Agape, that we see playing a significant role in our society and our economy. Yet, for some reason, it's the least understood and least known of all the loves. Here's one definition that I've managed to memorize for myself:

Love is all the good things we think about, say and do, on purpose, to build-up, strengthen and encourage ourselves, the people and the world around us.

Go ahead and look around and (with a bit of effort as they're not popular,) you'll find similar one-line definitions for Unconditional Love. The one above is mine; without a doubt my favorite is this very short definition from Dr. Ravi Zacharias:

Love is HARD WORK!

A couple of quick examples:

  • Early in the morning, when a mother forces herself out of bed to make breakfast for the children, even though she'd prefer to sleep late, that's love. It's hard work - but it feeds the children so that their minds are prepared to learn at school.
  • When a man is tired and wants to go home but he reviews his work and fixes any errors he finds, that's love. It's hard work - but it ensures that the customer will be happy with the results.

Love, as they say, "makes the world go round," literally.

But how do we learn, truly, to love one another? In business it's easy because we are either told what to do or we figure it out. We Plan and work to Build towards our success. In all other aspects of our lives we should do the same - but, generally, we don't. Unfortunately, as expected, we often fail in the many things that we didn't plan and didn't work to build.

Still, mature men understand that we can either work to build, work to destroy or be irrelevant. Let us choose to build. Mature men know that the main tools that we use in life are the eyes, the ears, the mouth and the hands. Let us learn to use these tools in the best way possible.

The first step towards our new Egypt, the most basic step we must all take together to enjoy our lives to the maximum, is to plan and build, with our women, the best possible relationships.

The first and easiest thing we can do, throughout the day, is to look deeply into their eyes and ask ourselves how they're doing? When we're young this doesn't tell us much because we lack experience. So, while looking deeply into their eyes, we simply ask them how they're doing? Then we listen seriously; we try to understand what they're saying in an effort to get their answer through our thick heads.

Over time we learn to understand them better. Eventually we're able to recognize the signs of happiness and confidence. Eventually we're able to recognize the signs of fatigue, stress, fear and worry.

Next we ask ourselves the ultimate Question of Love, the question that always finds the best answer: What can I do to help in this situation?

Perhaps everything is fine - at which point we ask the next Question of Love: What can I do to earn a smile?

Sometimes things are not going so well but the situation isn't so serious. Sometimes something simple like a gentle hug is all that's needed.

Sometimes the situation is more complicated. It might be necessary, for example, to get up in the middle of the night to change a diaper and feed the baby so that mom can get some much-needed rest. Sometimes it's a really complicated situation and we're not really sure what to do - so we seek the advice of a trusted and respected advisor (a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother...)

Now I ask you: Do you need to be a husband to do any of the above? Of course not! A brother can look into his sisters' eyes and ask her how she's doing. A son can see that his mother hasn't slept in days and he can get up at night, change a diaper and feed the baby.

WHAT? ARE YOU INSANE? Seriously, man, get out of your comfort zone; let miracles happen. Of course if you are an immature man or boy you will find all of the above to be completely impossible - you may never do it. That's the thing about immature people - they settle into a level of immaturity and they resist the need to grow from there.

Mature people understand that their real education begins every morning when the sun rises. It's happening minute by minute throughout the day and it never ends. Every day is an endless series of opportunities to learn new things, to try new things, to improve just a little, to grow in some small way.

In their effort to do good mature men communicate trust, respect, confidence and encouragement with their voices and with their hands. Mature men speak gently and kindly. Their actions and their words fill the air with peace and confidence.

When a mature man touches a woman gently on the edge of her shoulder he's telling her that he cares for her; he's saying that he's happy to be with her. When he stands a little behind her and touches her gently in the small of her back he's saying "I have confidence in you" and "I'm here for you if you need me." When he takes her hand as they cross the street together he's saying "I'm with you" and "let's do this together."

Mature men and boys are familiar with the expression: "If mama ain't happy - ain't nobody happy." They remember the old saying, "A happy wife makes a happy life." They spend their youth preparing for happiness, peace and prosperity through good relationships.

Mature men and boys understand that they need to sit together with all members of the family from time to time so that they can communicate, discuss and plan the wonderful lives they want to build and enjoy together. They need to consider and celebrate the things that are going well, make note of the things that didn't go so well (so they can find ways to improve,) and organize their schedules so that the things they need to do will actually be done.

Mature men can see how they're doing by looking into the eyes of their women. They can see that the women are most beautiful when the house is running smoothly, when life is peaceful. Life is full of problems but a mature man will smile and take action to manage the problems as best he can. This produces a peaceful life - perhaps with many problems but peaceful nonetheless.

When a woman has been treated with such gentleness and love by the men in her life she walks with confidence. She goes out seeking understanding and becomes a wise mother - not only for her own children but, even before she has children of her own, she becomes a wise mother for all the children in her community. Study after study has shown that a confident and happy woman can infect dozens of children with her joy and her desire and ability to live a good life. Study after study has shown that very young girls who learn that they are loved and cared for... (I know you won't believe me so start looking for the studies and read them carefully) ...Young girls can literally impart into the young boys a desire to work hard and be successful. There are studies that have shown dramatic economic benefits to entire communities, in as few as ten years, following the introduction of programs to educate and transfer simple skills to very young girls (such as teaching simple needlework - making repairs to clothing - to girls who are as young as ~8 years old.)

There are studies showing that young boys consistently - in all societies, regardless of religion, culture or economic circumstances - find that the most beautiful girls are the ones with self-confidence and self-respect.

Imagine: In a country like Egypt which already has the most physically beautiful women in the world - imagine how amazingly beautiful all the women would be if all the boys and men were to devote themselves to properly loving and caring for all their mothers, sisters and daughters:

  • If all the media outlets in Egypt were to celebrate these basic concepts of kindness, gentleness, caring, encouragement and support,
  • if all the public figures in Egypt were to proudly tell the world of their love for their mothers, sisters and daughters, if they would proudly speak out about the joys of living a life of peace and the efforts that they're making to grow that peace in their lives,

Imagine how much we can accomplish together in our beloved Egypt if we made more efforts in these simple areas.

Today I challenge you: Get together with your friends and family regularly and ask yourselves this simple question every day:

"What little good can I do today for my beloved Egypt?"

Learn about good things every day, talk about good things regularly, share the good you find with your family and friends, go ahead and commit random acts of kindness towards one another as much as possible - and watch joyfully as the nation grows in peace and prosperity through these good and Godly works.

Let us build together, little by little, step by step; Tahya Masr!



This text was written by an Egyptian-Canadian who doesn't speak, read or write Arabic. I'm doing what little I can. How about you? Let me know. Thanks!

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