Can you feel it, taste it, touch it? Freedom is ethereal, a sense in the spirit, yet there is a hunger for its presence in the human heart. First there were marchers in Tunisia, angry at the unnecessary martyrdom of a young man. The quest for freedom then spread like a desert wind across the nations rimming the Mediterranean. This was so evident in Egypt over the last few weeks as many, young and old, Muslim, Christian, and secular marched to create a democracy. I am certain many of us have held our breath and crossed our fingers as we watched the hopeful marchers and protestors for freedom. As the crowds grew, so did concern for the safety of the marchers.
And -- when Mubarek did step down -- the whole world WAS watching and cheering with the protestors. (Well, almost the whole world was cheering, it has been said that many Middle-Eastern dictators are looking carefully over their shoulders and trying to find appeasing moves to quiet their poverty-stricken multitudes.)
None of us knows just what the future will bring for Egypt. We can hope. America can help with NGO assistance and not weapons. A free, educated, employed, fed and informed public is a terrific weapon against extremism. Let's hope that we can help make that happen. Egypt has millions of poor and poorly-educated residents. They were not the numbers in the streets, but to make this revolution meaningful their needs must be addressed. And America needs to understand that this is their revolution and they may make mistakes and may go in directions we would not choose. Democracy is messy; freedom is fanciful at times. We as a country need to step back, just as a parent does when a child rides a bike without training wheels for the first time and be close enough to help if need be.
A cartoon was reprinted in the Saturday Washington Post in which a cartoonist showed a pyramid losing its top of "auto"-cracy but not yet deciding whether to try on the top of "demo"-cracy or "theo"-cracy.
What do you think the future will show for Egypt? I do not see the country becoming a nation such as Iran, dominated by Imams. Few of those were in evidence in the crowds, nor do I see a military martial law in effect long-term. I remain hopeful that parties will form and elections will be held later this year. It is hoped that they will be free and fair without being rigged and a government of sorts will ensue, warts and all, just as we did in our early days as a country. There were those who considered making George Washington a King; thankfully he declined and we formed a more or less imperfect country -- free for some, then and eventually later for the rest of us, but based on the principles of democracy. I heard an Egyptian haltingly say that they wanted: "a government of the people, for the people and by the people" -- now who should argue with that?
Let's hear your thoughts on this most unexpected turn of events.