Egypt: Change Must Come, Chaos Must Not
Written by: Ahmed Rehab
For me, this is the most important piece I have written since I have pushed for democracy and freedom in Egypt. I believe that what I am about to write is shared by many honorable Egyptians.
This is not about Mubarak. This is not about el Baradei. This is not about punishing anyone or awarding anyone. This is much bigger than any one person or party. This is about reforming Egypt’s system of government. This is about the separation and independence of parliament and the judiciary from the executive branch and each other. This is about making the law supreme above and beyond whoever happens to command special powers or special interests. This is about ending corruption, incompetence, apathy, political monopoly and suppression of freedoms. This is about reclaiming the dignity of the Egyptian citizens. This is about transforming Egypt into a society that embraces political transparency and accountability, fair competition, merit, and opportunity. This is first and foremost about Egypt, a country we all love and cherish.
I want change, not chaos. I reject chaos with no less a passion than I demand change.
Every march that I have participated in has been civil and peaceful. Skirmishes occur only in self-defense. I marched again today, despite the veiled threats by some in the Egyptian government. I marched again because the legitimate demands I marched for have not been acknowledged, let alone addressed. Just as I have before, I marched in civility and peace. I have conviction that every protester is committed to the same. It was the protesters who formed a human chain against thugs trying to take advantage of the situation by attempting to loot the Egyptian National Museum. We put our valuable heritage before our well-being; because it is our heritage that taught us to march for our future.
We, the protesters, do not believe in violence. Personally, I believe violence is a symptom of weakness. I believe that our strength is in our numbers, our perseverance, and in the legitimacy of our demands.
I want real change. Real change does not happen overnight. I disagree with those who wish to force overnight change just as much as I disagree with those who do not want change period.
I do not march to oust the president. He must leave, but only as a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. If we conclude an era of dictatorship only to sink into an era of alternative dictatorship or chaos, we have done nothing. The only acceptable end for which I march is the ushering in of a new era of true democracy and stability. For that to happen, Egyptians must prioritize crafting the future over avenging the past. We must understand that the process of true change is a long and arduous one and involves many parties.
For the process to begin, I am convinced that there needs to be a regime change. But as an Egyptian, I want Mubarak to leave honorably; because I think it would be an utter waste of time, energy, and most of all blood, if the focus comes solely upon Mubarak, rather than an agenda to build a new Egypt. Egyptians must not fixate on Mubarak as the problem; the problem is greater than Mubarak. In fact, the problem lies with every Egyptian, and every Egyptian must be part of the solution. If anyone thinks otherwise, they are in for a rude awakening.
Mubarak should resign now or at least publicly declare his intention not to run for office this fall. This should address the key demands of the protest. Once this occurs, Egyptians must be immediately involved, recognizing that the struggle for change is not over but that indeed the real challenge has just begun – this being only the first step.
Egypt’s problem is not just one person. It never was. Egypt’s undoing has been its pervasive political culture of cynicism, power-grabbing, double standards, corruption and lack of accountability. Egyptians must recognize that this is the epidemic that permeates every level of government and public bureaucracy from the bottom to the top of the pyramid. The president bears a lot of the responsibility being at the top of the pyramid. But he does not bear sole responsibility. There needs to be a collective acceptance of responsibility and a collective commitment to change. Once Mubarak does his part, the people must not waste their energy and corrupt their motives by seeking to harm him; rather, they should wish him well in retirement and recognize that they must now do theirs.
To me, rage is only acceptable if it is a peaceful force for productive change. Otherwise, it becomes a disease which eats up the enraged. Egypt is at a crucial crossroad. In order to pull itself out of possible long-term chaos, Egyptians must summon the wisdom not to allow their rage to devolve into hatred and revenge; instead, they must remain committed to the positive Egyptian values, energy, and cooperation so desperately needed to carve out a glorious future that everyone wants and deserves.
Original post: Egypt: Change Must Come, Chaos Must Not