I have friends in Egypt. Women. Journalists. Art writers. From my distant life in America, I have observed the Jasmine Revolution, the uprising in Cairo and Alexandria through their eyes via the bits of email and Facebook posts they can share. Today, the people won. Mubarak has stepped aside. Thirty years is too long for one person to remain in power. I know. I live in a town that has had the same mayor for more than thirty years. There is a reason we elect our president every four years and that they can remain in office for no more than eight years. We need new ideas. We need debate and dialogue. We have three executive branches of government--presidential, congressional, and judicial. Neither has exclusive power over the other. One person, in office, for thirty years, yields too much power and control, even in a small town. But that's another story.
One of my Egyptian friends took to the streets for the first time in her life. She said:
But if they even ignore my little request and cut off my mobile and internet, and treat me like shit, what do they expect? I mean, they cut us off from the rest of the world, and what are they expecting people to do? I will take to the streets!
Isn't that fantastic? She was afraid, but she marched. It was peaceful. It was perfect. That was before Mubarak had his thugs ride in on horses and camels and throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at unarmed, peaceful protestors. She was terrified, but excited. I've felt that way before when I've taken to the streets to march and protest for things I believe in or against things I oppose. I've been screamed at by the opposition, listened as hate-filled words were flung in my face, feared that it would escalate. It never did, thank god. But many have experienced violence in America as well. And yes, we are uneasy. Free elections in the Middle East often mean that parties we do not support get their candidate elected. But Egyptians must be allowed to vote for their new leader and elect someone they want.
My friends in Egypt described the uprising as bringing all people together, like a mosaic, people of all beliefs and all walks. "Not just together" she writes in an email, "but held tightly." People held tightly, woven together for a cause have changed their country. Mabrook! They write on Facebook. Blessed congratulations!
Now the hard work begins. They sing songs for a better tomorrow. They will change their country in a way that is best for them, not for America. That is as it should be. The principles upon which our country [the USA] was founded are principles that all can embrace, but how they make that happen is now up to them. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." That is what the people want in Egypt. They must work to continue this freedom.
For my friends in Egypt I say "Mabrook!" I hope the process continues to bring people together from all walks of life. That peace remains. Our human desire for freedom and respect is the same there as it is here. We don't have an exclusive on that in America.
"Something changed that they can't take away from us," my friend writes. "Young Egyptians proved to be organized, responsible, and reliable. Nobody asked them to mob the streets, guard their houses, take care of their neighbors, or organize traffic. Something has changed in the way we look at each other, and it pleases the eye."