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Being Egyptian now means that every other discussion with another Egyptian is most likely going to lead to politics. Lately it’s mostly about how sick we are of discussions about politics. And yet we still keep talking about who did what and why it’s so bad that they did that. I fully understand the importance of current events in Egypt and the greater importance of being aware of them. But I have a rule: I do not discuss politics or religion beyond a nod and a joke that leads towards a change in subject.

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Many of you might think that that rule is impractical and fairly naïve of me. Maybe you’re right. But there’s a basic truth about these particular two topics: people will believe what they believe and THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. Now pay attention because that last bit seems to be the bigger issue in most minds nowadays. What you try to achieve in one discussion (change the other person’s mind about the subject) cannot be done. These are thoughts that have been engrained in people’s minds for decades, with supporting evidence conveniently presented to them by those they think are wiser and smarter.

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Now, I’m not suggesting you just don’t try. I’m saying that in order to have an open and effective discussion about something, both sides have to be calm, interested, and most importantly listening to what the other side is saying. When it comes to religion, nothing you will ever say will make the other party think that even a minor detail in their beliefs is off because we are taught that those who are against us are trying to turn us, even if it’s about something as small as the presence of a dog in the house.

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They are both ways that govern the way we live. We have made up our mind and planting doubt in such a deep and important topic would mean a lot more than a minor shirt you can take back to the store and exchange. It’s therefore easier to convince yourself that this shirt is the best shirt around and anybody who tries to tell you otherwise just doesn’t understand fashion.

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Now, you might think, “Sure, religion is a no-go. I would never try to change someone’s mind about that. But politics is debatable. People change their minds all the time.” Putting aside that unfortunately religion and politics seem to have lately become intertwined, politics is just your belief in what is right for your country, instead of what is right for you (religion). They are both ways that govern the way we live. We’ve made up our mind and planting doubt in such a deep and important topic would be like reevaluating a whole life’s-worth of beliefs and, more importantly, reevaluating those who taught us these beliefs. It would be like trying to change the bottom of the pyramid without moving the top.

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