In a world that seems to be spinning out of control, Ellen Barone is surprised to find that she is still full of hope. Like everyone else, she has moments of disgust and despair, but then, almost miraculously, a ray of light shines through. How does this happen? She blames it on travel.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a continuation of an ongoing series of insights and dispatches from Egyptian contributor Manal S. Kelig, a devoted mother, wife, tour operator, and peace promoter living in Cairo, Egypt. Our hearts go out to Manal and the people of Egypt during this difficult period.
by Manal S. Kelig
For the past 2 years Egyptians found themselves regularly facing heart-breaking choices!
When the revolution took place on 25 Jan 2011, I was not in a status to rejoice or condemn. Just one day earlier my late father had to undergo a serious operation as he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
For the next two weeks we were having our own stressful events where the hospital we were in was attacked by thugs. Doctors and nurses could not come to work. Medical supplies were not delivered to the hospital. As we ran out of options and danger continued, we were forced to check out of the hospital with my father in this critical condition and have him home nursed by my sister who has no medical background except her amateur medical readings. As his condition declined, taking my father to a chemo session was over 7 hours ordeal in Cairo traffic that was continuously blocked by demonstrations and sit-ins. In April 2011 my father passed away.
While our lives were made hard due to the unstable political conditions, and as I had some friends celebrate the revolution and others dam it, I realized no matter what I have gone through I will not point fingers at any of them and blame them on what we had to face.
Our family like many others was a casual victim of the events. When we were attacked in the hospital we were not defending a cause, or chose to go in a confrontation. It was just our fate.
I knew very well many other Egyptians in different ways would be in that position in the coming period.
A New Egypt with No Leader
For the past 12 years I have regularly said in my lectures, “ No one knows what will happen when Mubarak dies, but I can predict there will be no wide acceptance of his son to take over and the different opposition parties will make sure it does not happen, but hopefully without violence. “
Then came the 2011 revolution, and like the other uprisings in Arab countries, it was driven by the dissatisfaction and anger of a new generation who formed over 60 % of Egypt’s population.
But the energy of 2011's revolutionaries was squashed by the power and organization of the already established forces in Egypt, particularly the earlier Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the 80 years old Moslem Brotherhood movement and some remnants of the Mubarak regime.
Editor's note: July 4, 2013. We received the following letter today written by the grade-eight daughter of an Egyptian friend iiving in Cairo. We felt that she conveyed her reaction to the political events taking place there with such raw grace and passion and intelligence that we immediately asked for permission to republish it (unedited) here for you. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.
I know that the best thing to do isn’t take an opinion from a twelve year old girl, who probably is just effected by her parents judgment towards all that’s happening. But hear me out please…
Being at this young age does not make me this girl who thinks she knows everything, it makes me someone that is trying to believe in my country and trying to learn. I am fully aware that my opinion is an impact by the people around me and that I am way to young to form my own outlook to all of this. You can’t blame me for that. I am still trying to comprehend everything that is happening and my brain is not mature enough to make and set me own opinion towards Morsy. Morsy hasn’t hurt me as I child. What do I know! I am not handling the family money; I am not the one who deals with the finance problem, that’s my parent’s job. And apparently they weren’t happy about Morsy’s help with it. So we so called ‘rebelled’. However let me tell you something, an amount of people so big trying to say something is not rebelling: its taking your rights and taking what was yours. My dad told me today that for the past two years, he felt that he was just running away from everything, but today; he stopped and he took a break. He was so proud of his country that it achieved.
I have to admit it, for the past several months I was not proud of being called an Egyptian.
Story by Andrea Gross; photos by Irv Green (unless otherwise noted)
I'm in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the gentleman across the table from me is telling me stories about a time when most Americans, including prominent senators, did the government’s bidding because… Well, just because they trusted the government to do the right thing. No bickering. No complaints. Not even any questions. These stories blow my mind.
On the airplane en route to Tennessee, I’d read articles about more partisan squabbling in Congress, more defiant businessmen, more people trying to advance their own interests at the expense of others. Now it occurs to me that, except for a few weeks after 9/11, I can't remember a time when the people of the United States were really united.
But this gentleman is telling me that such a time existed not so very long ago. “During World War II,” he says, “extraordinary things happened,” and he continues to tell me about the “Secret City” that existed in his neck of the woods.
It happened like this: On August 2, 1939, President Roosevelt received a letter from Albert Einstein stating that there was reason to believe Nazi Germany was developing nuclear capabilities. Roosevelt realized that the United States had no choice but to do likewise — and to it faster.
Thus was born the Manhattan Project, a massive, top-secret, all-out effort by the United States government to develop nuclear capabilities.
Senators and Congressmen authorized the money without debate, knowing only that it was needed for a secret war effort. (Hmmm…. Can you imagine this happening today?)
Last October I found myself in Rosemary Beach, Florida, and while I was there heard that this was Karl Rove's new hometown. Forget Texas and DC - one of the most influential political operatives of the last decade lived in a million dollar home in this upscale New Urbanist community on Florida's Emerald Coast.