Saturday, January 29, 2011

Walk Like an Egyptian

I'm currently riveted to Al Jazeera English, a live stream of the best coverage on the revolution going on in Egypt.  Al Jazeera may have its own flaws and agenda at times, but right now it's the best place to find out what's going on, putting US cable news to shame.

I don't know what's going to happen, but I can't help hoping that the Egyptian people will soon be enjoying a freer, a more democratic government. Meanwhile, though, it's tough to hear about the deaths, the injuries, the oppression, and the destruction of antiquities.

It's astonishing how fast a country can go from a stable but corrupt and tyrannical dictatorship to who-knows-what when the people are sufficiently galvanized.  Egypt is not the same country it was a mere five days ago.  I'm dumbfounded by the bravery I've seen.  I'm having trouble pasting the photos here, but you can see amazing shots like a protester kissing the police here, and of protesters praying as they are blasted with water cannons here.

I was in Egypt a few years ago, and along with the amazing antiquities, friendly people, and beautiful scenes along the river, I was struck by the grinding poverty suffered by so many of the people there.   I've heard that nearly half of the 18 million people living in megalopolis Cairo live on just a couple dollars a day.  Meanwhile, those in power have lived in ridiculous luxury, separated by an enormous gulf from the people they were supposed to be serving.

That gulf is narrowing as I write this, and it's fascinating, horrifying, and inspiring to watch.  The internet and social media of all kinds makes this possible.  It connects us to those who are marching on the streets of Alexandria, Suez, and Cairo, to their family and friends demonstrating in Washington DC, Britain, and New York.  It's one world, whether we like it or not.  And I find it a constant source of wonder and astonishment.

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