Why Egypt’s Revolution Starts With One


The anniversary of the January 25th revolution is upon us once again. This anniversary leads us to the realization that those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violence inevitable. Five years have now passed and it is clear that every revolution evaporates and little is left behind unless a new mind set for the nation sets in. We need a nation of justice, of law, of equality, where no one is left behind. No man stands taller because of his position, beliefs, or his wealth. A country where the public purse is not defended by one, but by all. A country that stands uncorrupted, and incorruptible. We also have to be a nation of one, one mindset, with each one of us causing change in our own way.

Want to fight the root of corruption? Set a high moral standard for yourself and instill that in your children. Want a nation of religious piety? Begin in your own home; don’t push your beliefs on others. Want economic development? Give everything you do in the first instance your all.

I fear more than anything else that the revolution we seek isn’t about who rules, but about how our society sees itself and how every individual among us defines his or her own code of ethics. And, our code of ethics is at an all time low. All I see more often than not on our airwaves are consistently people with attributes of clear mental illness. Can it be that a significant part of our population is suffering from a plague of turret’s syndrome? From the way we address each other that seems obvious at least to me, and a product of the failure of our education system more generally. More so, if you want to promote tourism, groping woman, and men in certain instances, which has become endemic in our society has to stop. What are our ethics after all if even a child sees no problem in committing unspeakable acts on women walking harmlessly on our streets regardless of their religion or nationality?

And yes, we know what revolutions look like all over the world. We’ve seen a student in China stand before a tank, a fruit seller in Tunis setting himself on fire, but what comes after? Chaos, or meaningful change? If the fight is about power, who’s in charge, this isn’t a revolution, it’s a fight over control and this undoubtedly stalls meaningful change. Look at China today, things did change, and it was as much about reforming the individual as it was about reforming the state.

A meaningful revolution begins with the transformation of one man, then another, then a third. Our true revolution will be a revolution of ideas, a revolution of transformation, economically and socially, a revolution of ethics and it cannot be a revolution of guns and bombs. These are the tools of the weak, not the strong. Revolution is not about shoot outs, it’s about a vision for a future that can make our country great again. And, for all of you who are old enough to remember Egypt was great less than a century ago by every measure economic and social. If this is too far removed from the Egypt you see today, read our history, understand our greatness, and think how we can be great again. Yes, there was a time where the current world powers borrowed money from our Central Bank, not the other way around.

Egypt’s true revolution has to be about reforming our economy, our culture and our society. That reform has to be a correction of abuses, an economic correction, and just as importantly a correction of a society that has proven that it is among the most unproductive in the world. The greatest challenge of the day is to reform our ethics more generally, and our work ethic more specifically. We need to change both the hearts and minds of our people which has to start with each one of us. And, if not much has changed from five years ago, no one is at fault, the fault is collective and the problem begins not with many, but with the one.

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© Khaled F. Sherif, 2020

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