With apologies to Valve and to my readers for my crappy Photoshop skills. Cake image taken from this lovely recipe.
I'll confess, I've wanted to write this post for a while, and I do admit it's LONG overdue. I did not want to write it in fear of pissing off those I love and respect, but they're free to refute what I say at any time.
After the well documented events at Maspero, I did not think I needed to write this anymore, and then I realized, it is more important now than ever to write it. No, I'm not planning on talking about Maspero. No I’m not planning on talking about the importance of Muslim-Coptic unity, or raise slogans of a cross and a crescent, nor any of those empty factors. This is not what I’m going to discuss. Others have covered the matter quite well, so please bear with me while I explain.
If we observe ourselves in retrospect, we can easily come to realize (if we were brain dead before) that the main reason of success during the 18 days (I refuse to call those 18 days the revolution. The revolution is nowhere near over), was our sense of unity.
Yes, I said unity. No, I don't mean it in a cliché manner. Again, please, bear with me.
It is not that the entirety of Egypt was united for a common goal (overthrowing Mubarak/Regime) , Evidence only shows that not only were we opposed by Mubarak's group (including the SCAF), but also by a (large) segment of the population that until this day, curses the day we ever revolted, and considers us criminals & traitors. Why they believe so is irrelevant in the context of this post, but the point is, to them, we're still bastards.
No, the unity we saw was OUR unity. Not those on twitter. But Us. A relatively small segment of the population that even if it may internally disagree on matters, still agreed on one goal: The Mubarak regime and Mubarak himself HAD to go. So strong was that unity for a common goal, that we overcame not only Mubarak, the right wingers in the west, Saudi Arabia & Mubarak's regime, but we also overcame that much larger segment of the population that still curses our names. Hell, we converted a large number of those anti-revolutionaries to our cause.
We were strong, and for now, we still are.
However, that unity, that strength is under attack, and unfortunately, the threat is more from within than from without. Do not take this the wrong way; I'm not saying that the SCAF, the NDP, and all the other Mubarakites aren't doing their utmost to divide and conquer us, but even if they're pushing for this division, it can only come to pass if we allow it to.
I understand that's a strong statement to say, but the reality is, it's true. The true enemy has always been the regime. But what needs to be clarified is that the "Regime" was not just Mubarak and his cronies; no, the regime was Mubarak. The regime is the SCAF. The regime is the NDP. The Regime is our aging "opposition" politicians and Muslim brotherhood leadership that do not know how to adapt to new circumstances. The regime is our corrupt Sheikhs and equally corrupt church leaders.
The regime is anyone that wants to maintain the old paradigms, regardless of proclaimed intent. The regime is the old guard. We are supposedly the new guard. The reason I say "Supposedly" will be made clear later.
Yet, it seems that we've prematurely assumed victory of the battle against the regime, and instead of fighting together as one against the regime, we've all eyed the "Cake" (the Cake being Egypt), and we're out to secure our own slice of the cake.
But the cake is a lie. If anything, the cake is a clump of raw dough that is nowhere near ready for everyone to claim their slice. Not only is it not ready, but the dough AND the oven (and the fire technically) are still in the hands of our true enemy; The Regime.
Sadly, instead of understanding that, we're fighting one another for an non-guaranteed potential slice of the cake.
This metaphor is not a new one. It is not my metaphor. Many have stated it before, yet few have taken heed of the warning. Take heed.
So why might our strength fail? The reasons in my humble opinion are:
1- We've (and by we, I mean those opposing the regime) are attacking one another for our differences, instead of focusing on our unity. I find it disgusting that activists, including prominent ones are attacking each other for differences of opinion & political ideology, and in turn we're alienating those that might potentially join us, by behaving in the manner. Like it or not we're leaders and we have a responsibility. Leaders are followed freely by people for their characters, even if such characters might have faults, but behaving like squabbling children is not going to garner us any support.
For example, I might not agree with Gigi Ibrahim (and indeed I rarely agree with her), but I find the constant personal attacks on her disgusting. She might be wrong quite often in my opinion, but at least she's trying.
Another example? while Mona El Tahawy might not be mother Teresa , she's still been tirelessly vocal for Egypt, Egyptians, and the revolution, and yet she's been attacked by people I respect (like 3arabwy ) and those that I don't respect, for something as simple as retweeting something I said (and still stand by). (I was attacked for it as well, but who cares?)
Another example? I love & Respect Sandmonkey to bits. I seriously do. Again, he's not the messiah reborn (even if he might sometimes act like he is), and neither is Wael Abbas (another person I respect), and to watch them take pot shots at each other, was highly saddening and depressing.
There are many other examples I'm not mentioning, don't get me started on the veiled insults, but you know the funny thing?
When Gigi Ibrahim was arrested (however briefly), a lot of those attacking her, were fearful for her safety.
If 3arabwy was to be in danger, I know Mona el Tahawy would be tireless in calls for his safety and well being (and indeed she has been before, when he was summoned by the Military for questioning), and not only that, I know if the tables were reversed, 3arabwy would do the same.
I know that if something was to happen to Wael Abbas, Sandmonkey would probably do everything he could to help him. If something was to happen to Sandmonkey, Wael would probably do everything he could to help him.
The problem is, I see this. I understand this. Those that don't know these people personally or even well do not. They only see figures they consider new leaders (and Figures in a way surpass being just Human), leaders that could define the new guard, squabbling and insulting one another, after they saw them united & strong during the 18 days.
Do we really have to wait until something happens, for us to show Egyptians and the world, that we're not just a bunch of squabblers?
2- Maintaining the old Paradigms: This is a youth led revolution, it's an absolute disgrace that in pursuit of a new Egypt, a new country, we're still allowing the decrepit derelict archaic old guard (i.e. aging opposition political leaders, Muslim brotherhood leaders, SCAF...etc.) to define our behavior and our battle, especially when they utilize fear as a major tool.
This one is so simple, it's insane, yet I’m personally guilty of falling prey to this. The old guard only knows and understands fear. They only know how to try to gain support through fear and by using fear to manipulate people. Yes, fear is not just a tool used by Mubarak and his ilk, and let me clarify how:
What does the Muslim brotherhood use to manipulate and scare people to support their cause? That Seculars hate religion, that seculars want to abolish religion, that Seculars are going to allow orgies in the streets, and public drinking and drunkards, and ban the veil, and destroy the family, France! USA! BOO! .....etc.
What do the aging opposition leaders use to manipulate and scare people to support their cause? That the Muslim Brotherhood will force everyone to wear the veil, and abolish freedoms, and censor everything, and ban art, Iran! Saudi! Boo!....etc.
You know what that reminds me of? The republicans and the Democrats in the USA. We all know how great that's worked out </sarcasm>.
Guess what? By believing that shit, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and those on any side of the issue will fight relentlessly against the perceived threat from the other, even if in reality that threat doesn't exist and in the end only the people lose, because the threat in turn becomes real, and radical instead of rational voices will be the loudest (For Reference see how well the average American is doing these days.)
Now don't get me wrong, those fears are valid and very real... that is, if we allow the old guard to dictate our future. You may think this is me having a utopian view, but ask yourself this: when you deal with the youth on both sides that think for themselves, that don't fall prey easily to manipulations by the old guard, those that you can actually communicate with, do those fears actually still stand? If all sides see through this web of fear, and realize that it doesn't have to be the way the rancid old guard want it to be, do you think those fears will come to pass? Of course it won't.
The reality is, inside themselves, the youth on all sides do not want this to be the way things are, they want something better, but since they can't find it, they gravitate towards what seems agreeable or right to them, and once they do, that's when the web of fear snares them. Can we not break those webs? Are the republicans and democrats of the USA, or indeed any of the current politicians in the world, really an example of what we should aspire to?
You know who we should aspire to emulate? Nelson Mandela. By reassuring everyone that he wasn't going to destroy their way of life, that he wasn't going to punish them for being different, he created something new & better from the rotting carcass of the old. He did not fall prey to the old guard, to the old way of life. He saw things from the point of view of everyone, and understood the "Other" better than most people understand the "Us".
Yet instead of following in the path of visionaries and truly great people, we're following in the footsteps of idiots.
This is my plea for a wakeup call. This is my hope that even if you disagree with me, even if you think me utopian, that you understand my points.
Enough division, enough with the old Paradigms. Enough of this shit, it's done nothing but lead the world to ruin.
I can't stress this enough: This is not just a war against the Mubarakites. There is no room for Leftists vs Everyone else, or Muslim Brotherhood vs everyone else, or liberals vs everyone else. I am not saying we all have to agree. I'm saying we have to find a better more mature way to disagree than this. The reality is we NEED these differences, everyone has an essential role to play, everyone has their place, be it the leftists, the liberals, the conservatives...etc They all have their place. It's like that sheet that firemen use to catch people jumping from burning buildings: all the firemen have to pull in opposite directions, otherwise the jumper will just hit the ground. Insulting someone for not doing exactly what you're doing, or thinking exactly like you thinking, would be like advocating that only one fireman should hold the sheet: Jumper be damned.
This is a war of the New Guard Vs. The Old Guard, and if we do not understand this, we will not win, and if we do not win, soon we ourselves will be nothing but an extension of the old guard.
The Cake is a God damned lie. Until we win it back that is, and bake it like we want it : Sweet, healthy, and regime free.
I totally agree with every single word! However, I disagree when you call this Utopian thinking when in fact it's nothing but very realistic and MATURE.ReplyDelete
If only more people had that awareness, many things would have changed for the better.
Loved your enthusiasm, your sincerity and above all, your polite approach in addressing different parties.
Posit energy and "wake-up calls" are much needed these days out of all days!
Keep those posts coming :)
"Yet instead of following in the path of visionaries and truly great people, we're following in the footsteps of idiots"ReplyDelete
Could not agree more.
It seems that everyone has studied a certain ideology, religion or school of thought and wants to stubbornly implement the textbook definition he/she has has understood. In a country like ours, if plurality is not entirely acknowledged and embraced, we are better off handing Egypt back to Mubarak.
What I feel we are witnessing is a sort of dictatorship within the rebirth of an allegedly democratic country. There can be no monopoly over our belief system by a snigle entity. We are all equal citizens before the law and before one another. We are equally entitled to speak our minds. If we cannot start off with a civilized dialogue, how are we expected to build an entire country?
Whether you respect others' differing opinions or not is directly proportional to how willing you are to move forward and engage in positive action.
Well-written and genuine piece :)
And now I'm hungry as hell for cake. I'm going to go get a cake, right fucking now. why can't a grown man eat a cake by himself without feeling ashamed? Hm? Great post dude.ReplyDelete
This is a phenomenal post! This is a must-read and I shall tweet/post so people may read this and be inspired!ReplyDelete
Now, how to get it out to all Egyptians?
I agree with the gist of the argument; unity of purpose is essential but not necessarily unity of method, ideology or political affiliation.ReplyDelete
I do however have an issue with the old guard/new guard dichotomy. I don't think there should be a "guard" over the nation; not in a democratic society where people guard themselves through parliament, associations of civil society, free press, independent judiciary, participatory local government and so on. There should not be an all powerful body that assumes the position of "guard"; the people don't need this big brother concept to even exist.
I take it that "old guard" here is not an ageist remark; but rather refers to existing rotten institution that have taken a life of their own and have over time become part of the larger social structure of society; regardless of the agency of the individuals who collectively make up their internal fabric (old, young, male, female etc.)
clarification/ confirmation from the author on this point is needed.
By Guard here, I don't mean it as a "big brother" kind of concept, but at all points, there are those that push for, and protect whatever system is in place, be it a brutal tyranny or a free liberal fair economic system.ReplyDelete
If anything I mean exactly the gist of what you understood, the rotten institution vs the pristine institution we're striving for.