As all eyes focus on the political developments in Egypt, I find myself more concerned about most ordinary Egyptians and their ability not only to safeguard the revolution but to actually be the change they aspire to be.
Thirty-eight years ago, the same creed of people fought bravely for their national pride and dignity and their stolen land. They stood up against the odds and broke the barriers of fear. They fought for what they believed in and they won. Their rise followed 16 years of defeat, shame, fear, frustration and hopeless survival; much had to be done. It was not an armchair victory and it was not easy for Egyptians to again recall their deep-rooted characteristics of resilience, courage, national pride and wake up the giant within each and every one. They achieved victory against all odds. They crossed the waters and broke the enemy’s defenses as the world watched the impossible become possible.
Today, nothing less than another brave crossing is required. It is a crossing from oppression to freedom, from fear to confidence, from dependency and helplessness to interdependency and partnerships, from being led to leading. The first spark of victory was ignited Jan. 25. It brought down the first barrier. It opened the door. The bridges have yet to be built for the crossover to happen.
This time the waters are deep and polluted. The waters carry along a heavy heritage of the systemic destruction of values, a fostering of corruption and fear. The enemy is more ferocious than any human. It does not only surround us but also lives in our minds and hearts. If it was only one man to bring down, it would have been an easy target. The one man was only the symbol. The symbol came down, but the biggest challenge is yet to come.
Since their last crossing and even before, Egyptians have been blinded by illusions, deafened by lies, fed suspicions and rumors and paralyzed by fear. Egyptians might have developed rust, even mold and dirt, but deep inside they are as resilient as ever and as brilliant as ever. We must not forget that even diamonds are covered in mud and rock. Like diamonds, ordinary Egyptians will need that polishing hand.
Restoring values of honesty, hard work, looking out for each other, caring, and even sharing seem like a long stretch of the imagination. Believing in a big dream is precisely what is needed now. We will go where our imagination takes us. It is that fight that we have to win. We must become the change we want to be.
I am certain all Egyptians will rise to the responsibility; they will shed off their heavy burden and recall their deeper heritage. They will recall their glory. They will eventually show what they are made of and they will follow their strong hearts and dreams to build a stronger and better Egypt. They owe it to themselves.