By Dr Mohamed Fouad
The following is not for the faint hearted, the revolutionary buffs, the hopeless romantics and the easily agitated ones. You need to “marinate” on these thoughts a bit in order for them to sink in, or not.
During the famed 18 days in 2011, I sat with a tenured and experienced politician who seemed uninterested in what was taking place. I was surprised at how composed he was as he told me: “Don’t judge this yet; this will soon sort itself out”. I guess on 30 June, it did sort itself out indeed. It still remains a tough call to say whether this was a regression or a progression. I may need to give him a call to ask!
The story unfolding in front of us is no fairy tale, no epic of good versus evil and certainly not aiming for the greater good. What we are witnessing is a tug of war with a popular cover. Everyone is in it for something and while on the surface they may seem to have a common goal, breaking down this common goal to the next level of details remains a pipedream.
I have spoken against 30 June for fear of repeating the same mistake twice. Let’s topple this and think of what we will put in its place later. To me, that was and remains bad planning. If you were to dig beyond the surface, you will see the similarities in which 25 January and 30 June were marketed to the masses. As I was leaving from the Cairo Airport in March 2011, I vividly remember a billboard with a quote from President Obama saying: “We should raise our children to be like the Egyptian youth”. I am not sure he would be willing to stick by this quote post 30 June! On 30 June, everyone became infatuated with the fact that this was the largest revolution on record.
What I see in all of this is an expensive learning experience that does not seem to have a defined end. This is the ultimate trade-off between conventional forms of representative democracy and the rise of street democracy; this is something which is not quantifiable, not sustainable and produces no viable change.
We continue to mistake motion for action. On 25 January, we agreed that President Hosni Mubarak should leave and disagreed on everything else. On 30 June, we agreed that President Mohamed Morsi should leave and we will also disagree on everything else. That is actually very conducive for the beneficiaries of both movements. Louis Pasteur once said: “Chance favours only the prepared mind.” By this, he meant that sudden changes don’t just happen but are the products of preparation. It is, therefore, why I believe we should give up on street movements. We need to give up on being an extra in someone else’s secret agenda.
What both 25 January and 30 June produced beyond the media hoopla and the loud rhetoric is a highly polarised society, frayed nerves and lots of heartaches. However, the illusions of grandeur will prevent us from admitting that almost three years later; we are not only back to square one but may have regressed a tad more.
We need to come to grips with the fact that we have sensationalised everything, demonised everyone that took a different stance from ours and have very little gain on hand to justify the loss of lives, loss of friendships and the economic downfall that we have suffered.
When it is all said and done the revolution or “revolutions” were nothing but illusions that fabricated an epic war between good and evil. The Mubarak regime was the bad guy in the first instalment, while the Muslim Brotherhood is the bad guy in the second instalment.
What is bothersome now is the fact that basic principles of humanity are now becoming debatable, human life continues to be cheap and any voice of conservatism is labelled cowardice!
Someone once said there is a price we have to pay for democracy. Well, I am not sure that this is democracy anymore and I am certainly sure that it is not worth the price that we are paying and continuing to pay.