The Egyptian journalist Bassem Sabry embodied the best of us: commitment, compassion, and profound optimism. Even as he witnessed the noble ideals of our Egyptian (‘Dignity’) Revolution being betrayed–and the country becoming bitterly divided–he dared to continue caring and upheld his code of honor. Sabry’s voice never descended into the fray of mounting cynicism, apathy, or worse–condoning violence. We mourn him so deeply, and widely, because he kept our conscience alive, reminding us of our larger allegiances towards one another and, through his inspiring example, that how we fight for our freedom determines who we ultimately become. Bassem (meaning ‘smiling’ in Arabic) employed gentle humor instead of the unfortunate, spiteful contempt now prevalent in the public discourse. In the midst of all the chaos and mayhem, he did not permit himself, or us, to lose sight of the humanity of all Egyptians, even as many experienced Revolution fatigue and allowed themselves to become desensitized by the military propaganda machine. This is why, irrespective of political leanings, he was the go-to-blogger, civil rights activist and media analyst for anyone trying to understand the unraveling in what was once referred to as the Cradle of Civilization.
That Bassem is dead, of an unconfirmed accident at the devastatingly young age of 31, is almost too much to fathom. He leaves a gaping hole in our psyche and, as Egyptians, we shall have to try much harder now to live with decency and integrity, without him there to nudge us in the right direction. Yet again, we can be buoyed by his wise, undying words. Hear his thoughtful, spiritually alert, emotionally generous reflections, upon turning 30 here.