Egyptian Society: Traditional Middle Eastern Values Blended with Western Beliefs
Amongst the turbid and dysfunction that is the Middle East lies the nation of Egypt. Egypt, a major country of the Middle East, is habitually considered stereotypical of Middle Eastern civilization, but further research guides one to the conclusion that Egypt is far from a generic Middle Eastern country. Egypt has a strong tradition of nationalism that has been formed during its history, giving it a national unity that is often non-existent in other Middle Eastern nations (1). This, as well as other advantages that Egypt has gained during its past, has allowed it to rise above the problems plaguing the rest of the Middle East and to form basically its own unique society, which is notably different from that of its neighboring nations.
Hannah Arendt is the author of The Human Condition, a book which is an effective aid in the explanation of the difference between Egyptian society and the rest of the Middle East. The Human Condition covers several aspects of different societies throughout history, but the focus of this paper will be on her discussion of private and public realms as well as her definition of a society. The two civilizations she uses to describe these distinct realms are ancient Greece and present-day America.
Ancient Greece had a highly structured society in which private and public lives were considered separate. A private realm consisted of the house and all that was entailed within it (2). There was a master of the house. The master of the house was the only one allowed to participate in the public realm and the only one considered a citizen. The public realm took place in a city setting, in which a large group of masters of their respective private realms would congregate in order to discuss matters of importance. For the most part, the assets of their private life did not play a role in their importance in the public realm. All were equal in this realm. The two realms were thus completely separate of each other.
The present-day United States is noticeably different from that of ancient Greece. The difference is basic: the private and public realms have merged to form one major realm, society (3). With this new blended realm of society, one's personal life significantly impacts one's role in the public. Better said, the private realm becomes public, able for all to view. This creates an unequal balance, giving high authority to those with impressive wealth or other valuable assets in their private realm. Arendt comments on the distortion of the public realm, which is now technically non-existent in the social realm, when she says:
Being seen and being heard by others derive their significance from the fact that everybody sees and hears from a different position. This is the meaning of public life, compared to which even the richest and most satisfying family life can offer only the prolongation or...