Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Dawn of A New Era

A Dawn of a New Era: The January 25  Egyptian Revolution
I was shaken – as many – by the power, freshness, and the peaceful clear vision of the Egyptian Revolution. I was struck by the fact that people from all classes, religious backgrounds, different ideologies came together as one entity to express their defiance. I – as many others - thought that it would be so difficult to bring Egypt out from a corrupt regime. Yet people on different levels were struggling to participate in societal reforms. Writers hardly could find their way to convey their message. Soon, they realized that they were crying in the wilderness, there was no one to listen. I – like many others – were not ready for a revolution, I thought reforming the existing status quo of the society would be the best way to bring my country from an apparent deteriorating stage to a better one. For me, that seemed to be a safer way then. Now, it is clear that previous attempts and cries did not go in vain. Every constructive idea and every hopeful dream transferred to positive inspiring energies and empowered young people to face the tyranny.
Despite the fact that the Revolution was a great surprise – even for those who initiated it – It did not happen without previous struggles. During the last ten years, different movements took place against the tyranny of the state. 6 April movement, 20 March movement, University Professors movement,  labor movement for change, medical doctors for change, patriotic group to protect Egypt’s fortunes, Egyptian movement for democracy,  the committee of labor syndicates’ rights and freedom and many other groups put great pressures on the previous regime.[1]  Political changes were the core issue of all movements. Accumulation of outrage was growing steadily, and exploded in the form of revolution. Why then were we –Egyptians- surprised?
We were surprised because we did not expect the magnitude and power of the revolt. Even the young people who initiated the protests did not imagine that they would be joined by millions. For them, it was far reaching expectations.  It was amazing that the flow of events were going without an apparent leadership and without overwhelming ideology. Revolutionists were able to organize themselves without central headquarter.  Because of that, this revolution was truly unique.
At that time, it seemed also impossible that the Mubarak would leave presidency. That is, because a plan was perfectly designed for his son Gamal to take his father’s position. In order to facilitate this procedure, the parliament elections were ridiculous; electoral fraud was too obvious to be denied. Meanwhile the opposition parties were not up to the challenges. They were part of a play of democracy; most of these parties were criticizing the regime by words, and did not attempt to collaborate collectively to build a common strategy in order to create a new social reality. Because of this inhabiting social and political environment, it was too difficult to dream of a starting step for reform or a change from within the system.   On the level of masses, hidden anger was accumulating; an explosion was inevitably expected. For any observer, it was obvious that the society is vulnerable to unknown and uncalculated breakthrough.
At that time, I knew that new violent groups could have emerged and non identified ideological movements might have worked from under the ground. I wished if the previous president could have grasped the dynamic of the boiling outrage among people, then he would have adopted serious reform procedures. As an Egyptian citizen I wrote an article, addressing Mubarak with pleas for urgent reform.  It was an amazing coincidence that this article was published on January 25.
My articles were published quietly in Nahidt Misr newspaper.[2] However I believed that ideas fly without wings. I was sure that when a person thinks deeply and could crystallize thoughts, and writes them down, or spells them out, the power of those thoughts works indirectly to have impacts on the collective consciousness. I was not alone, I am sure many people were thinking positively, trying to find a way out. I gradually got to understand that the reform from within the previous regime was impossible. This regime established its power on oppression and corruption, and would have never changed its policy. The authority was playing the game of democracy, but in reality, ignored completely the voices coming from the grass roots or the elites. It meant to put people at the edge of despair, kill their aspirations, to grant their silence.
Through that last thirty years, as a young woman who looked forward to participate in the development of her country, I have been improving my skills and capabilities, together with my civic activities. I dreamed of being part of a society full of love, tolerance, caring and giving. I have always believed that sowing seeds in small area is a beginning of cultivating the whole earth. Therefore, we should never stop from doing goodness regardless of counter evil resistance. By steadfastness and persistence we will reach our goals. Day flew, I was crippled to use my full capacities, yet I have never lost hope, and I did not expect that every word I wrote before the Revolution would have an echo and power.
Before the Revolution, my thoughts, struggles, hopes and dreams revolve around how to revive the authentic Egyptian spirit that stood behind the ancient civilization, and echoed in the teachings of religions that followed. I was following this spirit through art, literature, folkloric works, even political thoughts, and the pure hearts of my students, representing a wide population of young people. In other words, I was searching for living experiences of faith as materializing in loving hearts and the sense of freedom that is truly felt when one breaks constraining dogmatic frames, and gets liberated from fears. I believed that within the environment of freedom and love, human civilizations flourish.  In few words, I dreamed of seeing Egypt, the cradle of civilization, initiating values for a new civilization.
Deep inside my heart, I sensed this hidden power in the Egyptian people, and was calling it to come to the scene; I was searching for a glimpse of light here and there. While I was watching the disintegration of the society, I opt to analyze reasons for what then seemed symptoms of uprootedness, and drew a way to bring us to the our roots, so we can see beyond our egoistic interests, and gather around common humane goals.[3] Those articles were diverse; they analyzed current situations, diagnosed spiritual and cultural illness, and prescribe possible remedies. My writings were sailing across the horizon here and there, and I was sure that a moment of awareness will come through. However, I did not expect it to come soon with that overwhelming power through a revolution. How could I have known that a revolution would be so peaceful and powerful?
Indeed this revolution was a resurrection of the Egyptian Spirit that had created the ancient civilization, and extended through all the flourishing historical moment in this country’s history. This spirit embraced Christianity and displayed it as a symphony of love for freedom and dignity. Therefore, martyrdom was honored during the oppressive policy of Roman Empire, just as it is honored in this revolution. Egyptians also welcomed Islam, reading in its teaching the same spirit of inclusion and love that was rooted in their souls.
Before the revolution, I thought that this spirit is about to die as a result of ideological hegemony, coming from the Arab Peninsula, or as a result of politicizing religions. Therefore the coming back of this spirit was a miracle by all measures. Indeed, the Divine mercy was apparent and clear.
When I repeat the expression ‘spirit of Egypt’, I recall Carl J. Jung approach in relation to the collective unconsciousness, and the archetypes. He was convinced that we carry the accumulated experiences of our human history within our psyche at the level of the unconsciousness.[4] In Tahrir square, people came to recognize themselves and their ethical power that was the core of building a great civilization. This was evident for even foreigners who lived the experience of the square. A journalist in a famous show- talk program, said he was present during critical revolutionary events in Iran, Sudan and recently Tunis, but what he saw  in Egypt during that time was different. Not only was his struck by the peacefulness of the revolutionists, but also by the way that people came together as one entity without central leadership. He expressed his amazement that despite their ideological, class, and professional differences, they had clear vision and objectives. From his perspective that was a moment of a new rebirth of the Egyptian people who have come together to recognize their One Self.[5]
The famous writer Tawfik Al- Hakim who wrote his well known story ‘The Coming Back of the Spirit’ was also inspired by the deep residing treasures within our collective uncousiousness, and visualized the Egyptian character as was expressed during 1919 revolution, and was revealed  in the 1952 Revolution. If he were here during January Revolution, he would have discovered more that he did not know.
I read once more what I have been writing in previous years, and think that it is my duty at this stage to collect those articles in one work, or one book, focusing mainly on the Egyptian Revolution. It is the right of the people to value this momentum and absorb the past with its events and lessons. Despair and hopes were wedded dramatically within the Egyptian hearts. When they broke fear barriers, they created a bridge to take them to the future.
 We must remind ourselves of the past, so that we will never tolerate any oppression and injustice in the future. We still have lots of challenges to meet. If we suffered in the past, we still have the future to enjoy.

[1] Bibliography of Social Movements in Egypt: principle investigator Ahmed Khayr, sponsored by Da’am for Information Technology in corporation with Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. In Arabic
 Abdel Ghaffar Shokr “ Protests Movement from the Past to the Heart of the Revolution. In  Amr Hashem Rabi’ (edit)  Jan uary 25 Revolution: Preliminary Reading and Futuristic Vision,  Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, 2011. In Arabic
[2] I mean I was not affiliated to political parties, or supported by any organization, or media’s help.   
[3] I found these following words a very close description to what has been happening in the Egyptian society:
“The population has often been atomized (turned into a mass of isolated individuals) unable to work
together to achieve freedom, to confide in each other, or even to do much of anything at their own initiative.”
[4] See C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London 1996)
[5] He is a German Journalist who was hosted by Mona ElShazli in Al3ashera Masaan, Dream 2 TV channel 

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