Having spent three weeks in Egypt, three summers ago in August, I can't help but be struck by what has transpired there this past week. As I watch videos and read newspaper articles about these current events, huge numbers of Egyptians gather in protest. People flock to the streets in both cities of Cairo and Alexandria. They have joined together in peaceful protest, not only to bring to light the universal hardships of high unemployment and inflation, but also to decry the lack of opportunities for growth and prosperity within Egypt itself. They live under a supposed democratic system that renders them helpless. Their president, Hosni Mubarek pontificates his adherence to democracy while he yields authoritarian rule. In other words, he has served 30 years as a dictator in a democratic sheep's clothing.
His submission now takes its toll.
This is has been Mubarak's tact all along, and largely the entire "Mideast as a Whole Way" of controlling the masses. Mideast governments keep dissidents quiet, jail those who object their dictatorships, as they shamelessly tout their "democratic ways",a disgusting abuse of power as I see it. I can only observe this from afar now, but I am encouraged to hear these Egyptian voices, a distant sound in chorus, joined not only to gain freedom, but also united in consideration of their own fate. Their voices can no longer be silenced. Their tyrannical leader must bow to their pleas and resign.
In the blink of an eye and emboldened by their close neighbors in Tunisia, Egyptians gather enmasse' to demand a change in regime. Their uprising, alone is not unique, but what does set it apart from any before it, is the way in which it was organized to begin with. An all new forum exists from which to launch political movements.
We've all heard the names, Facebook, My Space, Twitter and such. They are instantaneous channels of communication, ways to speak our minds and document each moment of our daily lives. We share and the world is apprised. At the tap of a key, we transmit details of our daily lives with friends and strangers alike. News arrives at our doorsteps within the moment it occurs. Egyptian youth have embraced this new way to communicate. Regardless of Mubarek's attempts at control, Egyptian voices were heard. His usual means to squelch his minions, met with failure.
I actually loath a lot of this new technology. My kids drive me nuts every day with it. They glue themselves to their computers. They text their friends while composing a school essay in Word. The printer churns out said essay. Meanwhile 10 of their friends await their, more often than not, rude replies. The world moves forward while they are on hold. What they fail to grasp, is the power they have at their fingertips, the ability to change the world if they so choose.
Twitter and Facebook are largely to thank. Social media allowed these oppressed people
to communicate their plight and unite in a noble cause. They alerted one another, inspired like minds to join in a crusade, and gathered together to face the opposition. By the time their own President was apprised, the cat was out of the bag, and the uprising had begun. Makes me wonder? Could Twitter be reason to celebrate? Can it serve as one stone in a foundation, on which a country can build a brighter future?
Does a turbulent voice tolerate a deaf ear? The Egyptians with help of revolutionary technology made their voices loud and clear. Mubarak has now agreed in part to disband his government body and to replace it with another. An important question hangs in midair, "Replace it with who?" One of his cronies or better yet his capable and willing (who wouldn't be) son, Gemal? What Mr. Mubarek needs to realize is that he no longer presides in a world where dictators can meet with easy success. Times have changed drastically since he set out on his own voyage for power. The world as we've known it has been turned on its head. Social networking makes it possible for the once silent minority, to be heard at long last.
In light of this, I realize my responsibility as a parent. My kids assume their technological freedom is a birthright. My job as Mom is to tell them it is not. They need to know that what they have at their fingertips is powerful, and to be respected in every way. My kids are sadly mistaken to believe that they are Kings and Queens of their solo universes. It is up to me to make them realize the small space they take up in the world as a whole. If I want them to be World Citizens it is up to me to teach them to be that. After all, we do have strong voices. we must embrace them and sing just as the Egyptians have done.
[image: Damara Kaminecki, "The Destroyer Backstage", Woodcut and Chinecolle, 11x15, 2014.] In this edition of Postcard from Paris, Matthew takes us to one o...