“It’s not time to worry yet.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
January 25th, Egypt. Revolution number 2.
A warning comes in my inbox, courtesy of the Canadian Embassy, goes something like, “All Canadians are warned.. blah blah blah.” Not that I don’t take it seriously, I do. It’s pretty clear that some shit is going to go down in Tahrir Square. The people are not happy, nor should they be. Morsi’s a bit of a dick, to say the least. The situation’s complicated, as it always is. The Egyptians are stifled and oppressed.
I can feel the energy even way down here in Dahab. The beach town is chill, but the Arabic news channels blare content of the protests and mayhem while the men sit around smoking shisha, discussing the situation. Something will happen, it always does.
A friend here mentions her plans to go to Cairo with her partner first weekend February. “I sort of want to see it happening.” My head nods, reflexively. Hell yeah, so do I. Two photojournalist friends of mine live in Cairo, they’ve seen it all through the years, surviving and wiser for it, emotionally and professionally. To see a country really say ‘we’re not gonna take this’, to see that in action, sure. A few Korean girls head there this morning, excited to be part of something.
It all serves to remind me that fear-mongering is more damaging than thoughtful risk-taking. Pragmatism, steadiness and confidence are traits that serve. Fear, panic and exaggeration do not. I respect the people who are part of the uprising, making their voices heard. Though there’s no doubt that there will be some unseemly shit happening on the side, symptomatic of the chaos. It’s tough to understand it all, particularly as a foreigner. No black and white here, everything shades of grey.
What seems less ambiguous is the political situation in my own country.
Under Harper’s hideous reign, Canada is slowly becoming a shadow of its former self. We sit back, watching our ‘leader’ hand over our land and jobs to China, watching the our lakes become unprotected. Silence. Angry posts are made on Facebook, petitions are signed, sure. Awareness is maybe increased but nothing more. Rest assured, there will be no uprisings in Canada. A few universities manage to generate some riots every now and again, but aside from that the country remains peacefully passive as ever. As Canadians, we wear our national co-badges of apathy and apology with a certain amount of pride.
I am not comparing Canada to Egypt, that would be useless and impossible. But there is merit to standing up for what you want, yelling at the idiots in charge, disturbing the peace, seeking justice. Don’t take it lying down. Violence is not the answer but causing chaos is sometimes a pre-requisite for change. One life, you better speak up for what you want, you better demand it.
Canada, are you listening? Am I?