The protests began on January 25th. On January 28th I got hooked. Two days later I wrote down my hopes for what would become of the Egyptian uprising. On February 2nd, I watched in fear and disbelief as government thugs descended on Tahrir Square, attempting to defeat the peaceful protests with acts of violence. By Monday the 7th I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that a peaceful revolution wasn’t in the cards, and that a stalemate would drag out until the protest lost steam.
But today…Today I watched the world change.
The most amazing thing to me about the past 18 days has been watching the resolve of the Egyptian youth as they held steadfast to their demands without sacrificing the core principles of their movementâ€”proving that peace can overcome power without becoming a mirror of what it is you’re rebelling against.
The Egyptian revolution also taught me an important lesson about freedom, and that is that true freedom comes from the inside out. I’m not sure that people instinctively know how to be free. Instead, I think liberty is more like a pair of shoes that you first have to grow into before learning how to run in. A lot has been said about the role that technology like Facebook and Twitter played in this movement, but I believe the most important role it played was in simply giving people a platform to find their own voices. It’s with these newly found voices that that their country has been, and will continue to be, liberated from the inside out instead of having “freedom” handed to them from the outside without ever having the chance to build the foundational character it takes to sustain those freedoms.
Another lesson is that while the future isn’t written in stone, that doesn’t mean that progress and change are inevitable. If you ‘wait on the world to change’ you may find that it never does. Change takes courage and sacrifice. In this case it took 300 lives and 18 days of civil disobedience. Stability often feels comfortable because it gives the false sense of security that you are in control of the situation when in fact the situation has control of you.
Right now no one knows what the events in Egypt will turn into. Tomorrow people will begin to speculate about what will happen next and what it will mean, trying to turn the uncertain into the inevitable. I suggest we don’t jump to conclusions, but instead allow ourselves to reflect for just a moment on today…the day we saw the world change.