Friday, February 11, 2011

Revolution 2.0 -- Egypt gains a chance for freedom!

Today something truly important has occurred.  A non-violent revolution pushed a dictator (one of our dictators) from power.  The joy being expressed in Tahrir Square in Cairo reminds me of the night the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.  I remember watching that event unfold on live TV.   The world that I had known from birth -- I was 31 at the time -- had begun to crumble.  With the fall of the Berlin Wall a series of changes in the world began -- the old Soviet Empire itself began to crumble.  I understand that the process of democratization continues, but it had a beginning.

Well today is a day as historic as that day in 1989.  With the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, who seemed intent on dragging this out as long as possible, hoping in one way or another to come out on top, a new day has dawned for the Egyptian people.  Egypt is the largest and most important nation in the Arab world.  It is predominantly Muslim, but it has a significant (10% or so) Christian minority.  What happens in Egypt will have repercussions elsewhere, which is why the Saudi's were pushing back, even promising to make up and shortfall if American pulled it's support.   The cat is out of the bag.

The title Revolution 2.0 comes from a statement made by Wael Ghonim, the Google executive, whose Facebook page gave the platform upon which this revolution was launched.  He gave full credit to Facebook because it gave the people a way of going around state media and organize themselves.  Ghonim has been very forceful in saying that he's not the hero and has no interest in being the leader of the revolution.  But he makes an important case for the importance of social media.  It is going to be more and more difficult for autocratic governments to control the flow of information.  Yes, social media, including blogs, can be used for evil as well as good, but again the cat is out of the bag.  The technology is here to stay and will continue to evolve.   It needn't be feared but needs to be reflected.

Now, one further comment.  It is interesting that yesterday we were surprised by Mubarak's failure to resign, as rumor was suggesting.  It would seem to be that Mubarak was hoping to do one of two things -- either cow his opponents into going home by his intransigent words or provoke a violent response -- so he could order a crackdown (the Army seemingly unwilling to intervene as long as the protests remained non-violent).  When the people stayed in the square but remained non-violent, the regime knew the game was up and Mubarak gave way to the Military, who now have the job of maintaining enough stability for a new system to emerge that would represent the full aspirations of the Egyptian people.  

Another word from Wael Ghonim needs to be heard.  The reason why this revolution has succeeded to this point and why there is hope for something really wonderful to come is that the fear that had pervaded the national psyche had been broken.  The people he said had decided it better to die for a good cause than to live for nothing.  When fear no longer holds, then the forces of oppression can no longer control the situation.


Today Egypt has taken the first step to become a truly free people.  Let us pray for their future and stand with the people as they make a new life for themselves.   

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