Friday, February 11, 2011

Where Were You When?

Today was one of those "Where were you when?" moments. In case you live in a cave and were unaware, today is the day that Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egyptian president. So where was I? I was sitting at my desk at work, writing an e-mail (I seem to spend half my day doing that these days), on a typical Toronto Friday morning in February, when I got a text from my husband telling me the news (he working from home with the TV on while we had workers at our house replacing the hot water heater - that's a whole other story).

I'm not Egyptian. I'm not Arab. I'm not Middle-Eastern. But I'm giddy with excitement. I'm giddy because the people have spoken. They have protested for a good couple of weeks, fed up with his policies and his regime. Sure, the guy has tried to hang onto power until the bitter end, but the people have prevailed. That is friggin' awesome. This will send ripples through the world, but especially through the Middle East, and the West. Oh, the West. The self-righteous West with their talk of democracy and free speech. The same West who was responsible for installing dictators after being responsible for ousting democratically-elected leaders who were actually doing good for their respective countries. Argentina, Chile, and Iran come to mind. But that's another story. If you want to know more, I encourage you to read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. I finished that book fuming at my seeming ignorance.

Now I know that this is not a total win. After all, according to the article, "Vice President Omar Suleiman said a military council would run the affairs of the Arab world’s most populous nation. A free and fair presidential election has been promised for September." Okay, so the military will take charge until September. But do we have any guarantees that they will relinquish power when the time comes? We know the old saying, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." I hope that this isn't the case and that those elections happen in September and that the country enters a new era of prosperity and freedom.

I don't know what the future will bring, but today makes me hopeful. Very hopeful. That people do have a voice and they CAN make themselves heard and make their country's politicians hear them. We in Canada should take a lesson from the brave people of Egypt. They weren't happy and they complained. Peacefully. And they got their point across. They were tired of letting their "leaders" push them around. We should do the same. Our politicians don't seem to work for us anymore, and hey, last time I checked, they are employed by us. Why aren't they more accountable.

So thank you, people of Egypt. But an even bigger thank you to the people of Tunisia, who set the example and inspiration to the people of Egypt. You are all brave and bold, and you have shown us that people CAN have a united voice that can do some good in this world.

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