Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wake up!

I arrived at the gym last Friday after a slippery but sunny trek across snow~packed roads. I shed my winter gear and walked to the elliptical machine to begin my workout. But first I turned on the TV.

And there, on that tiny screen, were the immense crowds in Tahrir Square. While I had been adding layers for my frigid walk just minutes earlier in my kitchen, Egyptians on the other side of the globe were learning that Hosni Mubarek had stepped down as president.

Tears poured down my cheeks now as I watched the raw elation on the faces of those who had done what once seemed impossible. What joy! I hadn’t followed the recent protests closely, but I was totally swept up now as I logged a few miles on the elliptical, eyes riveted to the television screen.

I’ve since educated myself about the happenings taking place a world away. One story above all others stays with me. My friend, Claire, sent me a link to the Democracy Now! website, which aired a YouTube clip of 26~year~old Asmaa Mahfouz. This simple home~made video, which had originally been posted to Facebook on January 18th, is credited with playing a significant role in sparking the uprising that toppled a dictator.

In that video, this brave young woman looks intently into the camera, identifies herself by name, and calls her fellow citizens to peaceful protest. She urges them to join her at a rally in Tahrir Square on January 25th. Whether or not anyone comes, though, she vows to be there herself.

“I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square,” says the veiled Mahfouz, “and I will stand alone. And I’ll hold up a banner.”

As we all know, she did not stand alone. Thousands joined her that day, with their numbers steadily swelling into the tens of thousands over the next several days. These determined Egyptians remained until the announcement came that morning as I dressed for the gym.

The actions of these people, and this one woman in particular, were courageous beyond belief. And look what they accomplished! Do we need further schooling on the ability of one person to make a difference in this world? Do we need additional reminders that committed individuals acting together can alter what seems beyond repair?

It cannot be denied that there are significant challenges facing us on many fronts. It’s easy to become discouraged, to feel hopeless. But we can no longer indulge in that kind of response. We haven’t the luxury.

Most religions tell us that we live an illusion. We are entranced, believing that what we see with our eyes and conceive with our minds is all there is. That dream tells us we exist separate from the flow of life. Under its spell, we believe that what happens in a rainforest in South America, or to children in Africa~~or down the block~~is not our concern. And even if it were, there’s nothing we can do anyway. The difficulties are too big and we are too small.

It’s time we wake up.

I’m not naive about the possible dangers stemming from the Egyptian revolution. Nor am I unaware of the risks that confront us as a troubled species on a stressed earth. We must use these crises, however, to motivate ourselves toward substantive change. It’s time to employ our tremendous resources to do our part, individually and collectively.

Asmaa Mahfouz and her fellow Egyptians have given us a model of what it looks like to awaken and to act~~as have all the other individuals and groups throughout time who have accomplished previously unimaginable things.

It’s now our turn. It is, indeed, time to wake up.

Loanne Marie

PS. If you haven't already, check out the YouTube clip of Asmaa Mahfouz.

PPS. And on a related front, check out the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream website for a symposium coming to your area. This is an inspiring
program, beginning with the truth about the current state of things, but soaring participants out into a hopeful approach to action, a "blessed unrest." Two of
these events are coming to southern Colorado the last weekend of February~~
to the La Veta Public Library on the 26th from 1~5, and the UU Church of
Pueblo, 110 S. La Crosse Ave on the 27th from 1~5. Free though donations are
gratefully accepted! Call 303~458~1050 to register. Hope to see some of you

And here's a link to a story about the southern Colorado Symposia from The


monica wood said...

Oh, my, that youtube video is indeed moving. The bravery of these people is so humbling. We're so lucky here, and complain so much about so little. Thanks for this, Loanne.

Loanne Marie said...

You are very welcome, yet we all know the thanks go to those inspiring Egyptians. And though I don't follow the news closely, there are folks everywhere, from totalitarian regimes to our own Madison, WI who are becoming energized. Wow!

Thanks for writing!

Caryl said...

Thanks for today's good message---it is so valuable to be reminded as to how things take fire when the time is ripe and ready for a big change: Rosa Parks taking a seat in the bus nearer to the front than she had ever sat before--Asmaa Mahfouz ready to stand alone in a peaceful protest at the right place and the right time. Both of them were part of the match that set things on fire so the big step was taken.

I just wish the follow-up after a victory didn't have to be so messy and complicated!

Loanne Marie said...

Ah, yes. "Messy and complicated" seems to often be the human way! So we each keep doing the very human work of cleansing and simplifying our own responses~~for what, after all, is the alternative?

Thanks for writing, Caryl!

Anonymous said...

I too have been very moved at the bravery of that Egyptian young girl! I cried and felt her urgency. I hope the spark of hope she inspired will continue to go around the world. Her message is full of hope and courage and responsibility. I as an older senior person have felt sadness as our own country continues to deteriorate and our rights are slowly being eroded, and all the while our young people seem completely oblivious. It seems we in all our progress have not come away too far from the Bibilical days of taxes and kings- the difference being only political correctness. What will our dream become? Will our young be moved and wake up before it is too late? There are no more Americas to sail to.

Loanne Marie said...

You raise some good questions, and your last sentence is so vivid and quite poignant. I know that things can seem so bleak at times. I know, too, that the energy is there, that there are positive forces just itchin' to shine through and that are already, in fact, shining through. It's our job simply to do our part, no matter how discouraging it may seem at times, no matter the outcome. That's why Asmaa so inspired me. If she and her fellow Egyptians can do what they did, there is hope. The shining is happening.

And speaking of those young folks, I'm trusting that there are more of them than we're led to believe who are concerned, who are itchin' just like the rest of us to do something. And by the way, the Awakening the Dreamer folks have developed a program for reaching those young 'uns, for encouraging their spark to burn brighter.

Shine on! And thanks for writing.

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Leia Marie