I have been completely in awe and totally enraptured by what has taken place in Tunisia and now is happening in Egypt. To see people in such large numbers come together and put their bodies and their lives on the line to protest and demand change is incredibly inspiring.
I personally think two things when I witness such a historic event:
1) Thank goodness that I do not have to protect my family from police and snipers or my house from looters.
2) If push came to shove and I had to make the choice to witness change from my couch or to camp out in a public square surrounded by tanks and armed men, what would I choose? We always love to imagine that it is the latter – we are the revolutionaries, the abolitionists, the civil rights activists. We are Normandy, Stonewall, Selma, Harpers Ferry, etc. But if we know anything from history, it is that most people are never the reformer or the protester or the revolutionary. That is why great systemic change is so hard.
It takes people who are willing to sacrifice their lives. It takes people who are brave enough to stare down physical force. It takes people who are unrelenting and stubborn. It takes people who are passionate. It takes people who have the ability to see past the now and the status quo to something else (whether or not their dream for themselves and their nation come to fruition). It also take lots and lots people.
When I see the images of men being sprayed with water cannons, when I hear reports of people being killed by snipers, when learn of the death of protesters, I am often thankful that I am not in the middle of it but also inspired by such courage and conviction.
Here’s hoping that it never comes to having to protest, to stage a revolution, to oust a government here in the US. But if it does, here’s also hoping that I turn out to be on the right side of justice, willing to sacrifice for the greater good in a very real way, willing to be brave enough, stubborn enough, passionate enough, unrelenting enough to stand up against force. Here’s hoping that I will always and forever able to see a better future, one for which it is worth fighting.
And here’s hoping, if it ever gets bad enough, that there are enough people – lots and lots of them – who agree and are also willing to do something about it.
But odds are you and I will not be one of those people you see in the images, the live feeds, the videos, crowding the streets and squares in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez. They are the historical exceptions. What these people are doing is amazing on so many levels. As we watch from our desks, computer, and couches, we need to remember that.
My thoughts are with the protesters in Egypt. I am riveted by your bravery and amazed at your conviction.