I am following the events in Egypt. As I understand the situation, there was long simmering unrest about the irreversible decades-long slide into poverty and human indignity.
Then, the harshness of life for one-third of the country crossed a line. People took to the streets no longer fearful of the repressive regime because there was nothing more to lose.
I hope, naively for sure, that there is an orderly transition to representative government. But not a government that looks like ours; the government must be authentic and legitimate within Egyptian history and culture.
I think about these protesters and then I think back to the 2000 election in the US, where the voting irregularities, and finally a Supreme Court decision, effectively awarded the election to George W. Bush even though Al Gore won the popular vote. Americans didn’t take to the streets. Why? Because we were rich, comfortable and had too much to lose by unrest. Hey, I was angry but I didn’t really do anything but talk.
If we knew then what our nation would look and feel like 8 years later, would we have, should we have, taken to the streets to protest the fraud and the Supreme Court’s ruling? Still, probably not.
And even thinking we might trivializes the determination and the courage of the protesters who are standing up against poverty, repression and hopelessness.