Sunday, February 13, 2011

Walk Like an Egyptian

Yes, they did.

It's been an amazing few weeks watching the revolution unfold in Tahrir Square.

For those who do not often follow world events, the news of the Egyptian revolution has probably been a bit like not knowing that a snow storm was coming. You wake up, there's snow, and you decide how it affects you. Some are moved, others are irritated, others just forge ahead with the daily ritual.

For those who have been watching, the political significance seems lost on no one: one of the great, ancient civilizations of the world, sitting astride two continents and between the Arab world and Israel, has shrugged its tyrannical (and Western-backed) autocrat, Hosni Mubarak. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have faced down tanks, riot police, and each other, all on television and mostly without violence.

The spectacle has been thrilling; it's all of that “this is history unfolding” without the “I can't believe how awful this is.” Those of us who have lived through televised wars, the fall of the Berlin Wall and revolutions in the Eastern Europe, African tribal violence, various bombings and terrorist attacks-- we have a special appreciation for the world- changing-event that isn't about carnage or destruction.

On Friday at my school, a couple of kids put up signs that said “Mubarak stepped down at 11:05 today.” Ironically, the school tried to stop them at first-- I suppose, in order to manifest why the revolution happened in the first place.  The school relented after realizing that, probably, none of the other kids would even know what the news meant meant. Those in power are always a little nervous.  I looked at those signs, hung in multiples like tiles, covering huge sections of the walls in the school. I love that these kids know that it's important that people witness this.

Maybe you've almost missed it. Take note. What's happened in Egypt is astonishing.

The nearly bloodless revolution happened in a place where autocratic rule has been in place for the majority of the last 5000 years.  It happened on the backs of people in prayer, of young and old, of men and women. Women in the Middle East rarely get to speak-- and, yet, there they were, waving flags and holding signs.  It included soldiers leaving tanks and kissing protestors. Artists and business people constructing human barricades. Young people rallied people through facebook; older folks rallied through mosques and cafes.  The revolution stretched across class lines, religious sects, international boundaries, and has captivated the world.

Look to Egypt this week and people are banding together to clean and rebuild the square.  Amazing.

As usual, nothing speaks better than the photos. Need an argument for the importance of a free press?

The message: truth can bring justice. Free people can band together and demand freedom. Those who are in power only remain there as long as they are allowed to. Our society is whatever we make it.

It's a story for the ages. It's a story of our age.  No one is sure what happens next in Egypt-- but what they've accomplished is marvelous.

Be inspired, America. Be inspired, world.


  1. Why aren't teachers taking to the streets to march against the horrors of ill-founded educational policy? Are we numb? Are we brain dead? Kris Kristofferson wrote that "freedom is just another word for nothin' left to lose."
    Just tell us what to do, we moan. Just let us collect our money and go right on acting the fool. And 'they' want to get rid of tenure? We don't have it anymore,because we never exercise it. Teachers: take note. If not now, when?

  2. The Wisconsin "uprising" is that the teachers and others (electricians, firefighters et al) are standing up to frank union busting. As reported first by Rachel Maddow, the unionized workers in this country (including the teachers) are the only bargainers (PAC money) standing to complete domination by corporate PAC money in the national dialogue. The Supreme Court decided that corporations are people, re the Citizens United ruling. Without collective bargaining, there can be no more dialogue against one sided interpretation/dictation by big corporate money. For example, if mining owners decide, miners will be forced to work in unsafer mines or be fired for protesting. If corporations dictate, the goal will be to replace teachers who are hired by the community with "corporatized" teachers whose first duty will be satisfy stock holders needs. To break the unions is to ultimately switch up the American priority. This argument echos Greenspan's wrongheaded view that the market is always right, which Greenspan himself has retracted. In the last election, had it not been for union PACs, Obama would not have been elected, even with the small contributions of individuals. The Lion's share of the corporate money goes to those candidates who fight for corporations and promise to water down rules and regulations. "Get the government off my back" means unfettered rule, and the end of all dialogue