About Me

My photo
Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

All for one. One for all.

I have been reading the news, and listening to the radio a lot the last week, following the events that led to the resignation of Egypt's president Mubarak very closely. It made me think a lot about how incredible it was that I was experiencing the events in Egypt as part of my every day life. In the past, I would have heard about these events weeks or months after they had happened. But with the internet being what it is, and with our world so interconnected now, it is impossible to not feel what is happening on the other side of the world as intimately as if it were happening right outside my own house.

This is what my conversation with my mom was like a couple of days ago:
Mom: "Hello...What did you get up to today?"
Me: "I worked on my writing. But have you heard the news? Mubarak resigned!"
Mom: "Yes....I heard this morning."
Me: "Change is coming to Egypt. I hope it will bring positive results. What do you want for dinner?"

My point here is just that the events happening on the other side of the world are such a real part of our lives nowadays that they have become fully integrated into the present moment that we are personally experiencing, and they are influencing our day to day emotions and thoughts in profound ways.

When Egyptians lost their access to internet, and the cell phone service was disconnected, I thought to myself -- how will we communicate with them? How will they let us know what is happening? People are so interconnected that many of us have personal friends scattered all over the world, so when something is happening, we do not think of going to the news -- we just call or email our friends to find out what is happening. Having grown up in Cyprus, I knew many Egyptians. I have been to Egypt twice, and have some close family friends from there. I also have many former students in Cairo. In 2008 I taught English to a group of PhD students from Cairo who came to Prince Edward Island for a three week intensive course. As far as I know, most of them are still in Egypt, so when the people of Egypt lost their internet connection, it was my students that I was thinking about. Since arriving in California, I have become very good friends with an Egyptian man and his Persian wife. He has family in Egypt who he had not been able to get through to since the beginning of all of the turmoil. I experienced what was happening was at a very personal level. And I know this is common today.

I was listening to a radio show the other day, and a fellow in Los Angeles came on to say that when the cell phone lines went down, he had a feeling that the internet would be next, so he contacted all of his friends in Egypt and asked them for their land line numbers, so that he could still reach them. When the internet did go, he started calling his friends, recording their account of what was happening on the ground, and posting the recordings to the internet so that people could hear real live first-person accounts of what ordinary citizens were experiencing in Egypt. That a single person in L.A. recognizing that when someone's basic freedoms are being denied, at some level everyone's personal freedom is being denied, stood up and took action to help give a few Egyptian citizens a way to voice their experiences impressed me. But it also highlighted the fact that we are part of a global community now. Not just because of the internet. We travel around the world. We have relationships that span great geographic and cultural distances. We marry people from the other side of the world and move to a third country. Our experience of global events has been completely transformed by changes in our perception of distance and the nature of our relationships.

Mubarak's resignation, and the 18 days that Egypt stood up to its president and demanded justice are an integral part of my life experiences, just as the moment when the first man walked on the moon was an historic moment for so many from my parent's and grandparent's generations.The video of the cheers that went up when the news was released that he had resigned sent chills through my body, because it was my friends, and friends of friends that just succeeded in demanding justice from those in power. That personal relationship changes our perspective of global events completely.

I find the many personal responses and connections to the events in Egypt to be an important reflection of how far we have come as a society. This wave of change is a global wave. The courage of the Egyptian people to stand up for what they believe, and the global response and indignation to the fact that the president would not step down were also, from my perspective, a reflection of humanity's unwillingness to put up with injustice any longer. Any injustice. Anywhere. Whether we are personally experiencing it or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment