An Egyptian 12-year-old gives us reason for optimism

Watch this video of an Egyptian 12-year-old talking about the problems in his home country:

Jeez, what was I doing as a twelve-year-old? I suppose discovering the world of puberty, porn and my proclivity for procrastination. I certainly was nowhere near this kid’s, his name Ali Ahmed, articulate ability, much less articulateness on matters of political and social affairs. Hell, I didn’t start reaching that point for another three years. Arguably, this kid could go tit-for-tat with me at my current age of twenty-two. The reason I am bringing this up is because my mind is boggled by this kid’s intelligence. Let’s examine it…

Ahmed says, “We didn’t get rid of a military regime to replace it with a fascist theocracy.” Now at this point, you’re probably thinking this kid is regurgitating some line he heard in a café shop from his elders. And maybe you would have an argument, but then the kid, when prompted, explains exactly what a fascist theocracy is. So, even at this point if he is merely regurgitating from someone older, he’s done a damn good job of simplifying a complex idea to this interviewer.

In fact, when asked how he knows all of this, he quips, “I just know it.” She presses him and he says, “I listen to people a lot and I use my brain.” Emphasis is mine because I could have leaped from my chair and applauded such a comment. Far too often that nifty little thing we have tucked inside our cranium gets forgotten in favor of willful ignorance, confirmation bias and intentional obfuscation of the truth.

Plus, he says he reads newspapers and goes on the Internet. To the latter, that is what is so wondrous about the Internet; it’s a tool that for the most part, can enable a massive accumulation of knowledge that brings people, even in places like Egypt, away from ignorance and into the public discourse, as he is now.

The interviewer next asks him, “So you see that the country is not doing well and has to change?” His response is probably the most indicative of his intelligence and likely disproves any further notion of regurgitation.

He says, “You mean politically or socially?” For him, as his age, to be able to make that distinction between what the problems are and how they differ whether in a political or social context is astounding. And then for him to go into elaborate detail about each impresses the hell out of me.

With respect to social justice, he goes on a tirade about how women are half the society, but are ridiculously underrepresented in the constituent assembly. Moreover, due to an extremist interpretation of Islam, men think abusing women is “discipline.” He calls bullshit on that one, saying, “This is not discipline; this is abuse and insanity.”

Undeniably, he has one thing going for him that most twelve-year-olds cannot say: he has awareness. He’s invested into the political and social happenings of his country. In fact, many people much older than him in Western countries and elsewhere plagued by apathy and ignorance cannot attest to the same awareness.

The video says he’s the next Egyptian President. Who knows how these things play out? But regardless, with people like him in the country, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future.


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