Today we had the pleasure of viewing two different sides of Egypt. We visited the Egyptian museum that is full of artifacts from the Pharonic period. The artifacts included mummies, shrines, and assorted devices displaying Ancient Egypt’s advanced technology. Our instructor, Dr. Mbaye Lo, mentioned to me that these technological achievements outdated those of other civilizations by more than thousands of years. Considering the information age we now take for granted, the fact that such technology was limited to one area amazed me. On the way to the museum, we had the pleasure of witnessing (from a distance) a demonstration outside the British Embassy. The protestors were voicing their dislike for the actions, of which specifically I am not sure, executed by the British government. Such a demonstration would not have been possible a year and a half ago. In this instance, Egypt was so far behind the progressive democratic nature of the West. How could a nation that was once so technologically advanced take so long to achieve democratic value?
Perplexed by this question, I forced myself to step and back and ponder the perceived paradox. Democracy, to me seemed to be the way of the future- a sort of standard for westernized nations that was spreading throughout the world. Then I reflected upon my time in Qatar, a country so technologically advanced yet still maintains an absolute monarchy. By comparing the two nations, I came to the sudden realization that perhaps democracy is not an standard based upon how developed a country, rather it is a system that exists in the countries that demand it. Though the technological age has assisted greatly in organizing democratic movements, there is no direct relationship between democracy and technology. We cannot use time, political, and cultural developments of other nations to define which situation is more advanced.
In Qatar, for example, one can find anything from IPhones to Kentucky Friend Chicken (KFC). Yet one will not encounter open political discourse. In fact, provided the person is in an expatriate, such a discussion could lead to his or her deportation. We, as American, may see this system as “medieval” or “outdated”, but is it fair to declare a political system ancient? Traveling to a county so advanced industrially yet so different politically, I believe that a democratic government does not demonstrate advancement. Of course I regard democracy as the best political system, but it is impossible to relegate it as the universal way of the future