We’ve had some interesting speakers this week, starting with the young man who started a human rights organization that I mentioned last time. We’ve also heard from our interim director’s husband, Jim, who is a Cambridge-educated lawyer who started his own law firm here in Cairo, and a political official from the U.S. Embassy. Both have started deep conversations, ranging from salvation and philosophy to the success of U.S. foreign policy and the benefits of democratization. With the lawyer we began our time with a discussion of inclusivism and exclusivism as salvation models. It got theological and scriptural very quickly, with good arguments on either side. I found myself nodding along to many people’s thoughts, thinking all the while that it is not our job to judge others and decide who will be saved and who will not. It is hard for me to claim to know the will of God, especially when it comes to the fate of others (who may make up millions around the world). Jim joked with us that MESPers are often divided into conservatives who know what they think and keep quieter, and liberals who spout off criticism but don’t really know what they believe. That was an interesting thing to think about, in regards to where I think I fit.
The man from the U.S. Embassy proved frustrating to listen to. He often skirted issues and gave placating answers that sounded like state department sound bites. He said he was surprised at our level of tough questions, which ranged from topics like Egypt’s internal political situation to the role of oil in foreign policy and our “strategic allies” in the region. Mostly what I got out of the time was solidification of my desire to not work for the U.S. government. I would have too many moral dilemmas with the policies enforced by our government around the world.
Tonight we’re heading by train to Luxor, the biggest tourist attraction in Egypt. We’ll explore some museums and ancient Egyptian temples, a cool chance to see some of this country’s pharonic history. (Plus our hotel has a swimming pool on the roof!) We’ll get back Monday morning and have the rest of the day to relax. Sunday and Monday mark the beginning of Eid, the end of Ramadan, so Cairo will be full of celebrating and many places will be closed for the holiday. It will be nice to have Ramadan end so that restaurants will actually be open during the day, and so we can feel like we can drink water openly in the streets without treating it like a covert operation.