Is Democracy What We Need First?

Is democracy what we need first? More precisely, are we ready for democracy?

After the revolution, many argued, "Egyptians aren't prepared for democracy." Back then, I was outraged from that comment, refusing to believe it. But I realized I had a misconception about democracy, and I believe many Egyptians did, too. Personally, I thought democracy would bring us civil rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of an assembly, freedom of conscience and beliefs, etc. All of that I realized was very different from democracy.

Hypothetically speaking, in the scenario that another uprising takes place, what do we need first? Is democracy our number one priority? Is democracy our first method to a solution?

I believe not. The way I see it is that democracy is a great system, but not the first step, especially in Egypt's case. Meanwhile, I strongly believe in the necessity of treating humans as actual human beings. I believe in the necessity of granting citizens a right to speak up their mind, to oppose, to agree, to have their own beliefs, to tolerate and accept others, to be given a chance at a proper education; all these, in my opinion, should come first and before we proceed to democracy.

We sought "democracy," and claimed we understood it well, yet we never actually stuck to it, since we never really dealt with politics.

Maybe that was why we went wrong the other time. We sought freedom, and yes, we earned it (at some point to some extent, at least), but above all, we sought "democracy," and claimed we understood it well, yet we never actually stuck to it, since we never really dealt with politics. We only protested and said no. But that was it.

We wanted democracy but we did not deal with it the way we were supposed to. Many of us tried, but mostly failed. Especially with the rush of protests toward the end of Morsi's first year in presidency, as we have seen, people were split into two. And I am quite positive that had Shafiq won the presidency, his supporters would have done the same as what the Morsi camp did, and the Morsi camp would have revolted against Shafiq, only because of their affiliations with the president they supported.

So maybe we really are not ready for democracy. Maybe if we assign someone, like a representative from the uprising, who can manage to implement those changes in the country first, we can proceed to democratic elections afterwards. But again, if we appoint someone, without elections, without letting people choose who they want, someone whom the revolutionaries agree on and believe is capable of moving change, would we then be just like the people who are currently in power?

I am just not sure enough if democracy is solely what we should be seeking. I am also not sure, and mostly don't believe, that one person, or elections are what going to change our life in a blink. Yes, exploiting the current president would be a step toward the change, getting another one in his place would be another step toward it. But we all have seen before that this alone did us no good.

Meanwhile, liberty...I believe we're ready to be liberated. But for this to take place, for any change to take place at all, people have to see and admit the ugly situation that surrounds them first. They have to admit we're not the "best country" or the "mother of the world" as a literal translation to what regime-supporters usually say. Before we proceed to any change, we have to liberate our own fear, and we have to believe in ourselves, and we have to liberate our judgements to be able to tolerate more.

And above all, we have to liberate ourselves from our own mentality first.

This post is part of a series focused on the Arab Spring, five years on. The Huffington Post invited people who felt like a part of that revolutionary moment to share their thoughts on what the movement means to them, then and now.