Every one has a theory on what it means to be Egyptian right now. Defiant, aggrieved, oppressed, tired, agitated, fighters,vehement, fearless, revolutionaries, ready. Few seem to see the long and difficult process that led to this moment. And while I see images of brave men and women thrusting themselves among a callous military and police force, I cannot imagine what it feels to be Egyptian right now, last year, 20 years ago. I’m feeling this overwhelming surge of happiness thinking of what millions of protestors over the last week, taking over one of the Arab world’s most populous nations are able to do – to shatter a system that has too long left them behind. I can only channel what a powerful moment in history this is. It is difficult to not be moved. But no one can quite capure that poignance through a singular stance. It is at times a tragic reckoning. The revolution that is happening in Tunisia, in Egypt, and spreading like wings to neighbouring nations speaks volumes about what people in the Middle East and North Africa have felt for decades: to speak for themselves. Yet even this view is limited.
For the next few weeks, at the least, all eyes will be East. And for the first time, no one can simplify the tensions on the street to ethnic rivalries, religious autocracies, extremist examples. The reigns have broken lose in the Middle East because they were sick of being contained for far too long. The caricatures that have too long defined what it is to be Middle Eastern are fast crumbling. And while I’m hopeful for the world in which I’ll wake up tomorrow to be a changed place, simply because we are asking more questions, I don’t believe we’ve taken the time to understand beyond what continues to be portrayed as an overnight climax. Let’s turn the table and point the caricatures to the opposite side.