Bye bye Hosni, Hosni bye bye

My entire life I’ve wanted to be on the streets one day when it all comes together; that convergence of sentiment and courage and the unstoppability of the possible.

It would have been a joy to have been in Prague for the velvet revolution in ’89 or Berlin twenty odd years ago when the Iron Curtain started to crumble, in Kiev for the orange revolution, or Tblisi for the Rose Revolution.

So there was a certain sense of regret watching the events in  Egypt today, not that Mubarak stepped down, oh no.  It’s just that part of me wanted to be there to soak up that sense that, given the will, people can do anything.

Of course this, emotionally, will probably be the high watermark.  If there is a transition to democracy, even if the military doesn’t try to divert the flood of demands for justice and liberty down the channels of their choosing, there will be compromises and difficult choices.

Democracy is a tough option.  It means taking responsibility.   It means listening to the other guy.  A lot of the time it means losing to the other guy even though he’s rather stupid and in it for himself.  There’ll even be times when he’ll feel the same about you.

But it’s being tough hasn’t put so many people off.  What one loses in compromise one makes up in dignity.  Robert Fisk uses the word ‘infantilised’ to describe the state to which autocracies have reduced the Arabs.  Well after an awe inspiring display of idealistic maturity perhaps it’s time that we stopped thinking in terms of infantalisation and started welcoming the Arab peoples as equals to the grown up world.  After all which of us has laid it all on the line for liberty in the way that millions of Egyprians have these last few days?

There was a time when Arab civilisation kept alive the flame of Greek learning and added to it while European thought was shrouded in its long darkness.  It’s about time the Arabs had a vision of an inspiring future and well as of an inspiring past to stir them.

The Egyptian tourist authority came up with the slogan ‘Welcome to our Seventh Millienium’ to promote their country. The day isn’t here yet but I’m hoping it soon will be when we can reply; well welcome to your first day of democracy.


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