In the aftermath of the undeniable shake-up of Jan. 25, 2011, Egypt is still struggling to create the change it aspires toward. It would seem that not much has changed, causing more frustration, anger and disappointment. Since change is a constant, one must continue to look beyond the apparent, or better still allow for a different understanding of more of the same. It is evident that Egypt has an elected president who must deliver a tall order. The country struggles to create a constitution and resume the structure of healthy political rule while faced with an ailing economy, a disabled education system and a population plagued with disease and poverty.
Many might argue the current situation reveals slight differences that were not present before the revolution. There is no doubt that Egyptians have experienced elections in a different form now compared to before and it is clear that those who played it right came to power and portrayed a different ruling face. The varied experiences of people and leaders since the revolution cannot be ignored or slighted and frustration increases because the change has yet to meet the great expectations of a great nation of people. While change is constant, breakdowns and breakthroughs are not. What happened on Jan. 25, 2011 was a breakthrough, the result of constant change in the levels of pressure exerted by rulers against the changing tolerance of most Egyptians. One group was eventually blinded by illusions of money and power and the other exceeded its capacity to tolerate it. It didn’t happen overnight, in two years or in ten. The bubble that exploded has merely relieved the pressure and replenished expectations, the causes for interim explosions are far from over.
The process is far from sequential; first you bring down the old, then you start building the new.
Changes to the old and new changes will happen simultaneously. Confusion thus becomes an integral part of the initial process. Regrettably, fear and disappointment at this instant of confusion could cripple the process or at the very least result in the acceptance of a mediocre stance and remain incomplete, awaiting yet another breakthrough moment. Because problems and challenges have been known to self-perpetuate, we must be increasingly careful with both our responses to the challenges and our expectations for change. Expecting a heroic leadership that will create any change is questionable given the level of disintegration in most of the current operating systems. Demanding change from the other and not expecting it from ourselves is a big challenge for Egyptians when attempting to meet their expectations.
To break the cycle and create a new circle of life for Egypt, courage is needed for those involved in cleaning out the old and the many others who are currently involved in creating the new. Courage is required to resist accepting mediocrity and giving in to the fear of change. Courage is needed for the builders to jump into the unknown and turn their dreams into realities. Both will need to proceed together, accepting their differences, tolerating that which they do not understand fully, embracing the new and most of all having the courage not to let their illusionary fears disrupt their process of change.
(This article was published on Hurriyet Daily News online on Nov. 3 2012.)