Losing steam

Losing steam

Like the typical spring time in Egypt, the Egyptian temperament sways between cold and hot with a lingering cloud of heavy dust in the air. The political change process proves similarly hazy and complicated, as Egypt experiences the second year of its spring revolution.

One cannot help but compare the mood on the streets of Egypt in March of last year to the outlook of many today. A year ago, it was only a month since the Egyptian people ousted a president who had ruled for over 30 years and had for the first time in many decades mobilized enthusiastically to take to the polls for a Referendum on March 19 2011. It was a different mood that prevailed then. In spite of major disagreements on the political institutional path, there was a growing tolerance for difference, a hopeful process of unity and a certainly more optimistic outlook for the future. Even the weather revealed a rainbow amidst the rain and sunshine above Cairo’s “Tahrir,” or liberation, square. 

This March has not been less sensational in terms of the political road map events. However, disappointment, waning trust and severe anxiety seem to characterize the mood of many Egyptians. The newly elected parliament continues to display immature political discourse and fuels the anger of its constituents, as the realization of the tasks at hand begin to be weighed up and attempts at nonpartisan decisions and actions falter. The ruling Military Council reverts mostly to silence and hides itself behind a weak and questionable government. It is difficult to imagine what possibilities are present for the creation of a constitution and the election of a President for a new Egypt, which most aspire to see. 

The energy for spring cleaning might be a viable one to change the tides. It is not surprising that indications of such energy are growing amongst a different yet powerful player in society.

They might be poorly represented in the institutional arena, they might not master political yakking, yet it is they who sparked and lead the revolution last year and continue to play and affect politics in their own creative ways. The youth of Egypt have paid most dearly with their lives and blood for Egypt to survive the change so far. Contrary to what some would like to believe, their force and energy is still intact. After spring cleaning as the old sheds its skin, come new buds and blossoms. In the natural organic life the process is also never easy and simple. Even nature struggles against the human forces of destruction, and survives at a high price. 

One look at the latest graffiti covering the security erected walls blocking some of the main streets in downtown Cairo reveals that much-needed generational perspective. Fencing themselves in and sealing off the population was the way Egypt’s elders responded to the bloody confrontations last November and beyond. In direct contrast, the young revolutionary artists displayed their ingenuity.

Instead of angrily bringing down the massive stone barriers, they tore them down with their imagination. To the onlooker, the once ugly concrete blocks show massive doorways and windows and sidewalks. One can almost see right through them into even better and cleaner streets beyond. It can only bring to shame the repressive, restrictive and controlling mindset of those in power. The bet is on the growing numbers and different mindset of the young Egyptians to continue spring cleaning and pave the way for the new to blossom.