I almost feel obligated to write the requisite “January 25 2nd Anniversary Blog Post”. I’ve been thinking about this for the past few days: what do I write and how do I really feel? All I’ve been getting back from the Little Man in My Head is, “blah” and sounds of someone on the verge of vomiting.
I often think about those 18 days, the hardships we faced, the fun times we had, and the accomplishments we achieved. Sitting here in the UK where I’m spending three months, it all seems like something I must have watched in the movies. I no longer hold the same sense of pride and accomplishment I had in the days following February 11. I still believe we did what we had to do. I still believe that Egypt now has a chance for a better future. And I still think it might take a generation or two to happen.
But truth be told, I’ve found myself feeling nostalgic for the days when the majority of Egyptians couldn’t care less about politics. We were all focused on our daily lives, our jobs, our families, and our friends. Egypt was (and still is) in a miserable state, but Egyptians were fun, funny, and always upbeat. I sense something very different now within myself and within most of the people I know.
I can’t think of anyone I know, whether they are liberal or conservative or something in between, who doesn’t feel out of place in Egypt right now. In a way, it’s like something in that “tissue” that once kept us all connected together has gone lost. Most, if not all, of us have that feeling of being “the other”. It’s an awful feeling.
Over the past year, there have been weeks where I’ve obsessed over the goings-on in Egypt. I’ve stayed up late at night following the news and events, I’ve broken down crying when ugly violence erupted, and I’ve felt let down by politicians – all of them. There have also been weeks where I’ve almost completely avoided following events in Egypt. I always keep that ever-so-small connection that will allow me to pick up on important occurrences in the country when they happen, but I’ll be trying to keep myself emotionally detached from it all. It’s not easy.
I currently don’t see that there’s much I can do but hold onto hope and get on with my own life. We’re in for some very rough times ahead. Egypt might turn into a country where I don’t recognize my fellow Egyptians for awhile. It will more than likely be a very uncomfortable place to live for a very long time. It may be years before I feel safe in my own country. In my lifetime, I may never see the improvement in healthcare, education, and human rights that I so wish for.
Even though I am very displeased, to put it mildly, with the current president and his government, I am more displeased with calls to oust him. No matter what, we have accomplished one thing and that is a democratic process. The process is by no means perfected, but it’s there. And it must be respected. If we can’t respect that then we’re playing games; dangerous games.
I think it’s great that we’ve found our voice as a people. But I really think we need now to learn how and when to use it. When demonstrations happen once or twice a week in one city they lose their significance to me. I stop listening. Sometimes it feels like we don’t realize that there are so many other ways for us to voice our views that may have an even stronger impact than demonstrating. Sometimes it feels like we’ve become addicted to the drama of it all.
It will take time for the old style of politics in Egypt to dissolve (along with its politicians) and for a new style (along with a new generation of politicians) to be ushered in. We need to learn to have patience for that to happen. We need to understand that there is a lot of work and time involved in making that happen.
Not all of us are cut out to be politicians or to be involved in politics. Those who are have a lot of learning to catch up on and a lot of work to do to earn the people’s trust and support. The rest of us need to focus on building ourselves to be better people and building Egypt to be a better place to live in. This translates into: just do your jobs well and we’ll get there.
We all need to know that Egypt isn’t Cairo with a little bit of Alexandria on the side. Egypt is a huge country with millions of people with varying needs. When Egyptians think of Egypt and what needs to be done to improve it, we need to start by thinking of southern Egypt, the Delta region, and Sinai. We need to step out of our Cairo prison – it IS a prison – and breathe the fresh air that hails from everywhere else.
I have no smart political analyses to give on Egypt post-revolution. I’ve never understood politics and probably never will. But I know how to take care of my family and how to be a hard worker. I can do that. I’ll try to do that. In the meantime, that blah sound accompanied by regurgitation continues to go round and round in my head.
Happy Anniversary, Egypt…BLAH.