As I watched the extraordinary freedom celebration in Cairo’s Tahrir (translation: “Liberation”) Square on television Friday afternoon, 2/11/11, hope rose in my heart like the flags waving over the jubilant crowds. An autocrat has been ousted in a peaceful revolution and the noblest qualities of the human heart have prevailed.
The amazing change in Egypt’s government has happened because of a massive evolutionary change in our collective awareness. The young, the subjugated, the impoverished, the disenfranchised everywhere are discovering that each of us has a voice that deserves to be heard, and that when we speak our truths with passion, courage and love we can improve the quality of our lives without violence.
I’m thinking of the people before us whose examples of courage and selfless sacrifice contributed to this day. I think of the Apache shaman Lozen whose bravery and clairvoyant ability protected her people as they fled the Anglo and Mexican armies…and who died of tuberculosis in prison for it. I think of Nelson Mandela, the first member of his family to attend school, who spoke out against apartheid in South Africa in 1962…and spent the next 27 years in jail. I think of countless women in early 20th century America who were beaten and imprisoned for demanding the right to vote. I think of Rosa Parks. Lech Walesa. Harvey Milk. Kent State.
But the masses of Egyptians who gathered together to demand Mubarak’s resignation got what they wanted without firing a shot or being shot at. Moreover, the military which is the new governing authority appears to be as desirous of creating a democracy as the people! In fact, we hear they see themselves as part of the people too. The mind boggles. Of course, this is no guarantee of a peaceful transition to democracy. There are far more examples of bad being replaced by worse than better. And don’t forget that the American Revolution was followed by a Civil War.
But the facts are undeniable. Autocracies and dictatorships are crumbling and democracy is on the rise worldwide. The qualities of caring and equality, peace and partnership, freedom, wisdom and understanding are no longer reserved for the brilliant, the gifted, the heroic or saintly while the rest of us wallow in ignorance, hatred and violence. They are becoming the common currency of the human spirit. If you don’t believe me, check out the statistics about the decline of violent crimes in America. We are growing up as a species; we are learning to respect and embody the values of Mother Sophia. And because of that, the dominator mode of governance that has prevailed throughout recorded history is a done deal.
It may not happen tomorrow or next year, but it will happen. And it begins now, at this very moment in history. As the terrorism of 9/11/01 ushered in a new era of fear, 2/11/11 will long be known as the day fear was defeated. Congratulations, Egypt, for showing us the best in ourselves! You are an inspiration to the world .