Why I'm Inspired By The Egyptian Revolution

I've been rather captivated by the events in Egypt since they started. I can't help thinking that this is really big deal. And every day, the stakes are raised.

Millions of people coming out across the country in protest of their dictator is amazing. Doing so in spite of coverage being hidden from state television is more amazing. Continuing to do it after the internet was taken away is still more incredible.

These people participated in peaceful, unarmed protest and managed to get the entire world's attention. They stood tight when counter-protest forces came to attack them. They've held their position after being attacked by a rain of rocks, a hail of Molotov cocktails, and even after hours of gunfire.

Thousands have been injured already, and several have died. Yet still, these people remain in their unarmed protest, holding their position. They refuse to be removed, insisting they will leave when Mubarak leaves, or when they are killed.

It makes me think.

How many of us have no clue what's taking place right now?

As an American, I'm accustomed to CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, all of which are laughable for what they call "news" and "reporting". I can't tolerate the news in America. When the protests began in Egypt, I was in a hotel that had BBC, which I found isn't really any better than the garbage in the US. (Oh yes, Brits, you like to judge us, but you're no better.)

Occasionally, though, I've had access to Al Jazeera. Wow. Now that's reporting. And more interestingly, their broadcast is streaming for free on their website and iPhone app. Can you imagine? They're more concerned about reporting than profits!

It's really inspiring to see people acting on what they believe to be right, for the good of the world, rather than trying to find ways to milk every last penny out of people. Money isn't everything.

How many of us have any idea what it means to be repressed?

I hate the political situation in the US. Most of us there do. But we're not even close to the point of millions of people protesting without end, risking our safety or even our lives to have our leader removed — even when that leader was George Bush.

Mubarak has been in power in Egypt for more than 30 years, and in control of everything as his country decays around him — a description that I find eerily fitting as I'm here in Italy, where that description fits Berlusconi. But Italians aren't anywhere close to the uprising that Egypt is experiencing.

This isn't the turnout for a live episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, or the line for Avatar on opening night. This is a huge, world-changing event. What does a man have to do to his people to provoke this?

How many of us believe in something strongly enough that we would die for it?

We love adventure. Our bucket lists are filled with fear-facing goals like bungee jumping and skydiving. We take on slogans like "extreme" and "no fear." We use tough language like "conquer" your fears, and "destroy" your competition.

We have self-appointed gurus telling us to "be extraordinary", to "build an empire", and to "change the world", but how many of them have a belief for which they are willing to die? How many of us do?

What would it take to make you join your neighbors in overthrowing your government, unarmed, while you're under attack? What would it take to get you to stand unarmed in harm's way, to put your life on the line, to risk death for the good of your people and what you know is right?

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  • OK, but....Your handwringing does seem a bit hollow, if you live in a country which has gone through protest, invasion, violence and repression and where people did come out on the streets 22 years ago to cause the fall of an entire regime and a one-party apparatus.Someone wrote a post recently about how Europeans do protest, how the polticians are, when push comes to shove, scared of us. Witness the recent student protests in the UK. These may have failed, but the 1990 Poll Tax Riots caused the amendment of laws and the departure of a Prime Minister. In France, protests frequently cause the government to reverse or amend laws. In 1968, they cause the fall of a government.It may be that the US is different....As for Egypt, it seems the army is siding with the government; it's not going to end well.

  • What handwringing, Paul?Its a simple question: What do you believe in enough to risk your life?Maybe you have an answer, maybe you don't. But who's wringing hands? The title of the post is INSPIRED by Egypt... But you respond as if I said TIRED of it.Well... Unless you're a Brit, in which case you're clearly reacting to one parenthetical statement, and you need to get over yourself.

  • What happens in Egypt is amazing, yet there is no need to glorify the people. Most of the recent dynamics can be explained by a simple combination of several circumstances:1. poverty and unemployment: for years, people in Egypt suffer from those two plagues, and it affects the vast majority of the population. We're not talking poverty as in "oh, I don't think I can afford a car", but as in "I don't have money to buy bread". In fact, the riots are mostly about an amelioration of the economic standard. (Similar to the revolutions that took place in France, I'd daresay.)So basically, Egypt had been sitting on a powder keg for a long time already. Two reasons why it exploded only now:2. Until recently, the regime in Egypt allowed a remarkable amount of pluralism in the country. People could (in certain limits, of course) critize the regime - it was used to let the steam off the system. Due to the events in Tunesia, the freedom of speech had been cut off, which in turn helped the opposition evolve.3. Again, Mubarak allowed a little bit of critizism, but only up to a certain point. As soon as the line was crossed, the regime used to be extremely repressive, leading to people feeling rather helpless. The events in Tunesia (together with the Wikileaks disclosures on Mubarak) triggered a gleam of hope that a revolution actually might work.As I said, the recent events in Egypt are amazing and I am really impressed at what happens. But still, I think the behavior of the people shows not so much how brave they are, but how desperate... so I'm not sure if I would want to be "inspired" by them.

  • If they rose up in violent protest, I might be able to share your cynicism, but the protest has been peaceful and non-violent (the response notwithstanding), and I choose to be inspired by that.

  • I too have been inspired by these people as well. WHo cares what caused the rioting and protest, who cares if they are desperate, the fact of the matter is they are ballsy enough to do it. In America, we bitch, we moan, we riot about idiotic things but I dare say the last time we had an uprising such as this in the States was the Civil Rights Movement and the riots against the Vietnam War. The former brought change to our country the latter did nothing. Go Egypt, I stand with you.

  • I think you got me wrong here... that is not cynicism, but pragmatism. I believe that a lot of what happens here is not so much about the people but about the circumstances, and that after a certain line of pressure is crossed, pretty much every people is going to revolt.So I think there is nothing special about the "why" of their riot. However, I am with you (and I agree that this is more inspirational) when it comes to the "how": peacefully and unarmed.
    Do you see my point now?

  • And if I wrote a post about how it's cool to protest, I would agree with you. But I wrote about people who are willing to risk their lives in peaceful protest (see my last sentence, "what would it take to make you stand, unarmed, in harm's way") so I really don't see the point to your giant dissertation on how unremarkable this event is.

  • I bet you secretly just enjoy to constantly misunderstand me, don't you :)You wrote: "What would it take to make you join your neighbors in overthrowing your government," to which I responded in my first comment. For that part: "unarmed, while you’re under attack?", I made myself clear that this is something special and worth acknowledging.However, I don't know if it's just me, but I just cannot believe that people act "just because they have such a good heart that they are ready to sacrifice themselves". That would be just stupid, and humans tend to act in a certain way because they think it will benefit them (for example because behaving peacefully increases chances for a regime change).
    So I find it legitimate to scrutinize their motives, which in turn doesn't mean that I don't greatly appreciate what they are doing.

  • It's not that I enjoy misunderstanding, but that I think we all owe it to ourselves (and others) to be more clear in what we say online, where misunderstandings are so easy to have.

  • Yes, I to am inspired. A lot more inspired than when the student protests happened in London. It just seemed an excuse to get drunk and vandalise something. It was disgraceful whereas this does seem quite dignified. We don't do enough in England when something goes wrong. We just like to write strongly worded letters and let the problem get worse. We don't like sorting things out.

  • Agreed... and maybe a bit more careful when it comes to interpreting and judging what others have said, too.

  • What you're willing to die for is a good place to start. I would add, What are you willing to live for to the discussion. It seems there are lots of things we are willing to "live" for that we would not be willing to die for - bungee jumping, bucket lists, etc. I think I need to work at aligning the "what I am willing to die for thoughts" with the "what am I willing to live for actions" in my own life. I easily make sacrifices in my life for things that I am willing to live for. What sacrifices do I need to begin to make in order to "live" - on a day to day basis - for what I am willing to die for.
    Well, that is my input to the conversation - hopefully positive input. Thanks for asking the question.

  • Thank, great response. I think you got exactly what I was trying to say.And I like the point about aligning what you live for with what you're willing to die for. Really gets me thinking.

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