The people of Egypt have come to that fork in the road. If only it were as simple as the the choice between these two very similar ones.
So much hangs in the balance. Nearly 40% of the people of Egypt cannot read and write. A vast number, however, are aware that life is different in some places in the world. They want things to be different where they live.
Moneyed interests will react to change with fear. Fear of losing what they have now. Fear of reduced wealth and power in the future.
Unless tamed by a humble and generous heart, such interests will be a powerful obstacle to overcome.
Corrupt elements such as the police and government bureaucrats will see change as a direct threat, not only to their income but perhaps to their very lives. They probably won't be out there saying "Yea and amen!" to the anti-government demonstrators unless it becomes the only way to save their own skins.
The now vast number of people without such power and wealth are out of patience. Food prices are outrunning them. The chance to keep up and better their lives is eluding them. They want education. They want elections. They want a job.
They want freedom. So they say. It's something we have but often can't be bothered to exercise or give thanks for.
Some know what they want. Others are just plain naive. Things are never all just one way. But changes are coming. The balance of power in the entire Middle East is in flux.
Israel is affected. Everybody is affected. There could be war, civil war, or stalemate. There are many forks in the road.
Here in the USA, we may find this new development in Egypt oddly remote from daily life and concern for our economy. But wait...! We're smack in the middle of it.
Our country had given vast amounts of military and economic aid to the government of Hosni Mubarak in order to help maintain this Arab nation that has a peace treaty with neighbor Israel. That stabilizing influence leaves our fingerprints all over a government that did not do much to trickle things down to the ordinary people. Human rights, freedom of speech and the press, freedom from torture--these things did not go forward under the three decades of President Mubarak's rule.
That's a problem for us.
I can still hear the voice of Judy Collins on a track of one of the vinyl LP records of her songs that I have from about 1969. It's the chorus of the theme song from the musical Marat/Sade. The full title of the story is something like "The Incarceration and Execution of Jean Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Prison at Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade." It's a story of the struggle of peasants and a few noble folk for basic human rights during the French Revolution, one such movement led by Jean Paul Marat who was executed:
We've got nothing, always had nothing.
Nothing but holes and millions of them.
Living in holes, dying in holes,
Holes in our bellies and holes in our souls...
Marat, we're poor, and the poor stay poor.
Marat, don't make us wait anymore.
We want our rights, and we don't care how.
We want a revolution......now!
Pray for the people of Egypt. Pray for the people of Israel. Pray for the people of Palestine.
Pray for peace, freedom, justice. Pray for hope. Pray for grace.