Thursday, April 07, 2011

Two Ways About It

I find myself often thinking about Tahrir republic. It’s a time that I miss immensely, where childlike hopes and dreams got us together in hopes of changing a nation. Every word shouted and every stranger helped seemed vital in our steps forward towards changing what seemed unchangeable. There was strength in numbers, but there was also strength in every individual whose actions meant something. The vast beaches though are made of these tiny grains, determined to make sand what it is. These grains don’t complain about their insignificance, and even when buried under the sea, their color helps determine the reflection of the skies above.

My Tahrir nostalgia comes not from missing the place, but from missing the spirit. It’s a spirit which was crushed for ages under the weight of oppression, a spirit which was once told it would never amount to anything; that they were young and foolish, and other generations were better. That spirit brought back a rolling body from the edge of a cliff and gave it life once more. That spirit became alive when every one of us believed that the little things they do make a difference. That spirit of Tahrir faded for some time, and I look back upon it ever so lovingly, missing it.

That’s what they said, right? That people weren’t ready to accept one another. That people weren’t ready to decide amongst themselves as to what they want. What I’ve seen with my own eyes tells me different, tells me that people are willing to love one another, that people are willing to help one another, that people are willing to die for one another. The memory of what we stood for in Tahrir is ever so strong, ever so powerful, ever so compelling that I refuse to believe that it was just a shooting star.

Skeptics have compared that what happened in Tahrir to the effect of drugs that is wearing off. I don’t think I can believe that having seen what I did. I believe that what happened there was a real goodness that cannot be evoked by adding a layer of lies, but one that is uncovered by removing a layer of lies. Tahrir is the core and all else are layers of dirt.

I can see the layers of dirt covering us again, camouflaging who we truly are just like years of oppression have managed to do so. But the dirt is not enough, for our true core shines from beneath it. I do not say this now because of what I have witnessed in Tahrir, but because of what I saw even at the height of an oppressive regime. Those bursts of goodness experienced rarely but vigorously have helped me realize what we’re made of. The sedation, the drugs is what the media feeds us. The passing effects are stimulants that play on our untamed instincts. As time passes, we shake the dirt from over our heads. If anything at all, that’s what we’ve learned to do in Tahrir. We’ve learned that we can band together if we rid ourselves of dirt, we can find a genuine love to unite us more than ideologies and interpretive beliefs. We’ve learned to really enjoy the goodness we receive from strangers. We learn to want to give back to others when we realize that strangers have died for us to fight for our freedom and dignity. The least we owe them is to love one another as they have loved us. Giving our lives is not something we are willing to do, but the least we can do is give up some of our differences for a greater good.

Every time I think of Tahrir, I think about the people who were ready to help one another and die for one another. How is it that we got so divided? It doesn’t matter, the real question is how will we be united. Every time I think of Tahrir and the sacrifices made by those who had more to lose than I did, it makes any ideological subtleties insignificant. Every time I think of sacrifices, I’m willing to sacrifice something of my own.

There are two ways to think about Tahrir and where we’re heading. It’s either that Tahrir was a temporary phenomenon, a chance encounter like a stone thrown into a water, whose ripples are fading, or to think that Tahrir is who we truly are and that our petty differences are dirt following the regime’s strategy of telling us we were never worth anything.

This will always be something for each to make up their mind about. I know that what I saw from people in Tahrir could not have been an illusion. It was there and I touched it. When people bond together, that’s what’s real. Politics, money and the thirst of power that ensues isn’t, even though the world wants us to believe so.

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