Civility, Diversity and Inclusion to Get the Day-to-Day Job Done

In a city of 20+ million people with 8 million vehicles, BMWs, Volvos, and Toyota minibuses zoom down the streets and highways of Cairo right next to working donkeys, scooters carrying as many as six full size tires, 18- wheeler trucks and scooter taxis that can hold up to three people plus the driver.

Amazingly, everyone – well almost everyone- gets where they are going without the use of traffic lights, or other standard traffic signals. During this entire visit, we only sighted two traffic lights, one of which did not work. Yes, the traffic accident rate is high, and the government announced this week it will invest in “smart streets” (cameras for ticketing speeders).

From a diversity and civility perspective however, I was impressed with the absence of flared tempers as too many vehicles tried to use roads not built for the volume. Regardless of the types of vehicles and the “look” of the drivers I saw no road rage. In fact, as a box fell off a truck, the driver of a van behind the truck stopped so other traffic would do the same. Out jumped a young boy from the truck to retrieve the box. On a highway no less! Egyptians joke that they need three things when driving: a good horn, good brakes, and good luck.

Why is it they all find a way to just get along? Why is it that in the crowded streets of the bazaars, people are very polite to each other when they bump bags or shoulders?  No dirty looks or angry words exchanged.

Why is it that Egyptians living in a city at grows by one million people every nine months can find ways to live together in the midst of what looks like chaos? Is it because their ancestors already tried the “be angry with everyone who does not agree with me” journey, so they already know that attitude and behavior does not really work?

Perhaps there is a lesson here for those of us living in a country that by comparison is a mere infant.  Hum, it just makes me wonder…