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Post details: Tahrir Square Avalanche

Tahrir Square Avalanche

There are many places on Earth where a reasonably rational person could expect an avalanche - Juneau, Alaska, Rogers Pass in British Columbia, Himalayas, Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia or the Princeton Institute for Advanced Avalanche Studies if there is such thing. But you would be hard pressed against a sheer rock to look for it in the middle of the capital of Egypt. Yet that is exactly where one happened this month. An unstoppable avalanche of public anger and pent up frustration swept the deeply entrenched president Hosni Mubarak right into the dumpster of history. As if the downtrodden descendants of mighty pharaohs suddenly remembered the Golden Rule of Political Hygiene. You change your dictators at least once every 30 years.

Political avalanches have various causes. Sometimes external, sometimes internal. Removing an obstacle that supports a critical amount of snow can do the trick, as exemplified by a domino of anti-communist revolutions that thundered through Eastern Europe in 1989 after the rigid reign of Leonid Brezhnev was gradually replaced by a more liberal Michail Gorbachev. In the case of Egypt, however, I think the avalanche was set off by internal strain. The kind you get when snow slowly accumulates at the edge, one flake at a time, at first without any visible effect, just quietly piling layer upon layer until, in one moment, its cohesion can no longer support its own weight and - all of a sudden - the whole mass bursts into motion.

Egyptians are not known to be notorious rabble rousers. They endured their longstanding dictatorial regime with unusual restraint. Year after year they meekly swallowed the humiliation of the tyrannical rule and tried to ply their trade as best as they could. But one persecution after another, one silenced opposition voice at a time, the overhang of discontent grew larger and larger. After 30 years of living in the shadows, something suddenly snapped. The snowdrift could not support itself any more. The chalice of malice overflowed. The people made their move and nothing could stop them.

Just like the freshly fallen snow which rides on top of an avalanche, it was the youngest faces that surfaced from within the fist shaking crowd. It was their hallmark courage that sustained the revolutionary spirits in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

See, older folks carry the scars of their own lost battle with the regime - they learned to live with it, like you learn to live with a chronic disease. They learned not to stick out their necks. They learned to enjoy small pleasures of life found on the regime's periphery. They learned how to make compromises. The kids don't come equipped with those skills. The new generation wants their dreams unadulterated.

You could see that uncompromising attitude in the CNN interview with a young Google executive Wael Ghonim whose Facebook network was instrumental in starting this uprising. With determination and fervor of a true leader, he spoke through the camera's lens directly to the regime: "We are getting back our country. You guys have been ruining this country for 30 years. Enough. Enough. Enough"

That was a pure resolve.

Yep, snowbanks grow slowly and quietly, but once they get moving, you better get out of the way.

In August 1980, a little known Polish electrician without any political function or influence scaled a fence in the Gdansk ship yard and energized the workers striking for better conditions. His name was Lech Walesa. He became the independent union leader, the symbol of the Freedom Movement in times when his country was merely a Soviet satellite, and eventually the President of Poland.

So here is to Wael Ghonim. May he one day become the President of Free Egypt.

Comments:

Comment from: Sununta [Visitor]
Would that your prophecy come to pass.

Permalink 02/23/11 @ 15:57

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