And so it has begun…
(Videos and updates on the Egyptian situation are posted below; feel free to skip my personal account)
“To hell with circumstances;
I create opportunities.” –Bruce Lee
I just started working with Elephant, and so far I love it.
Yesterday, after our meeting ended at 2, I sat in my car for a half hour wondering what to do next. I was waiting for a friend to call. In the meantime should I go find Wi-Fi and flirt with the whole new-media world? What would Waylon do?
She called; we went to lunch. My best friend Ellen and I talked about our current transformations and strange energetic exchanges. She’s a Naropa Super-Psych student; I’m unemployed.
(We ate at Pizzeria Locale, btw: $9 Lunch Special = Salad + a big Pizza and a sparkling beverage; I had a glass of ’08 Montepulciano for $7, its lively, dark cherry spice and charm well worth every penny. So good, in fact, that I gave my last cash dollar just to bump the tip up a couple percent).
We walked around for a while. Effortlessly, Ellen balanced a half-full pizza box on her head. We spoke of past-life flashbacks; of cloudy experiential connections to Africa. A man on the street passed us, said, “Hey, my people been doin’ that since forever…!”
“Hey, perhaps last time she might have been your mother…”
Her boy Craig invited us to the Boulder Zen Center; he had never been there either. It was beautiful, one of my best sits in recent memory. Felt like sparks were flying out the top of my head. Moved from monkey to zazen through mantra to rest in my stable MerKaBah. Palms, perineum and crown create an upward-pointing pyramid; heart like the King’s Chamber with the open sarcophagus. Om Namo Narayanaya. With that heart glowing green I zoom out, then down into Earth; encompass the surface, connect to the core, return to the center, repeat and continue. Om Sri Maha Lakshmi-ai Namaha.
Done, I thanked everyone — handshakes and hugs as appropriate — then drove toward Denver again, heading to what must be one of the most comfortable beds in town; or first, my buddy Jamie’s couch for group movie and a micro-brew or two.
I had to drive around for an extra 15 minutes looking for a place to park. There is always a spot on his block. But no, not this Thursday night. Finally I stopped two blocks away, East down 13th at High St. This almost made me mad.
At the moment, I’m having my mail sent to Jamie’s address. Amazon delivered a blue rubber cover for my free new smart phone that I hate a little bit but know I don’t want to smash still not yet (They give you “upgrades” every 3 years? I liked my simple old flip-phone, except that now — in case of revolution — I can take HD video and immediately show the whole world). I immediately slapped a blue Elephant on it, preemptively removing any potential obstacles.
Then it was time to drive home. Halfway to the car, I passed a black man carrying a gas can. I had seen him half-a-block away and in my loose-minded mood had always intended to say, “Good evening to you sir.”
As it happened, he needed help. He had run out of gas, and was walking. He wore a badge, worked downtown; yet there was no need for that, all already understood. Except… I’d tipped that last dollar…
Well, everything helps; I gave some change. 86 cents, and a wish for good luck.
“Thank you; and I could use the good luck.”
Then over my shoulder, while walking away, “Blessings be upon you brother”
“Thank you… thank you.”
In the car, honestly tearing a touch with ineffable joy, I ignite the heated seat; blast the heat; sing three Tryambakam’s and Om Bolo! while bowing to Satguru Sri Sivananda Maharaj & Sri Swami Vishnu. Jaya!
Turn up CPR at 12:12 to hear the BBC reporting on the next, biggest uprising in Egypt; of a peaceful overthrow in Yemen; of a continued people’s movement in Tunisia; of South Sudan voting for independence; of tense expectations in Jordan. Now, this is happening. First I’d heard of true revolution.
What does this mean? What are we moving towards? How lost have we been?
Meanwhile, appropriately, Nelson Mandela was also in the headlines. The elder African sage was briefly hospitalized, but is back home now, healthy we’re told.
I can’t imagine I’ve explained this properly. Do you know how miracles are made? By the slow, sly combination of many impeccably miniscule moments?
How can these movements “have no individual leaders yet” yet for the moment “that doesn’t matter.” Tyranny fails; evil is boring. These are peaceful people taking to the streets, demanding to be treated as members of humanity. There will be no one sage; there are always already many.
I have never been more emotionally disoriented, spiritually adrift, socially incompetent, financially precarious, pathetic, confused, selfish, desperate, sad and plain-to-say lost than I have over the past few weeks. It would appear I am not alone in this.
I do not think it hyperbole to feel that the dramas playing out upon the world stage mirror my own personal process (or is it vice-versa?). The old is not yet dead; the new cannot yet be born. The Old Order is offering no shortage of resistance, but with a flailing sense of inevitability about its quickening demise. Past ideas of how to best exist have been proven sub-optimal, and the new way is not yet apparent.
What happens next is everything.
If I (we) were Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade, we have found the moment in which we are ready to surrender our whole body weight to the faith that there is a not-yet-visible bridge across this transitional oblivion, across the bottomless pit that is the final passage before our chance to touch lips to the lip of the Grail. But between us is this gap, and we can’t understand or imagine what might support us from one ledge to the next. Even then, having cultivated this perfect faith, we must face fateful decisions.
I am overwhelmingly inspired by the reports coming out of North Africa today. Egypt is the focus, but be aware that there are movements across many countries. For now, I will surrender my attempt to describe the synchronicities that make this moment feel so personally significant, and focus on gathering relevant reports, with the desire to share the breaking news that continues to send soul-shaking shivers up and down my body.
First of all, Obama has called for peace, but not spoken directly to Egyptian leadership. He sent Press Secratary Gibbs to instruct potentially-ousted Egyptian “President” Mubarak “not to engage in violence” and to “broaden the discussion and take some necessary actions on political reform,” while at the same time making clear that he and his corrupt, suppressive, torturous government have “for several decades been a close and important partner with [the United States.]”
[UPDATE: Jan 29, 2:52AM MST — Obama has since spoken to Mubarak on the phone, insisting that violence not be used against protesters. “This moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise,” Obama said. –from The Guardian]
However, Gibbs did not go quite so far as to give explicit support for Mubarak in this delicate situation. He was sure to mention how “this isn’t a choice between the government and the people of Egypt,” alluding to President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo (scroll down about 2/3 of the way; see “the sixth issue”) encouraging greater social and political freedoms in Muslim countries and culture. This message also included expectations for fundamental women’s rights. It is worthwhile to note, then, that women have been playing a crucial role in the recent Tunisian uprising.
Some quick context: Current Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak took power in 1981 when his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was assasinated. Since that time, Mubarak has never lifted the declared State of Emergency in Egypt. 30 years now. He has used the draconian powers thereby afforded him to squash opposition, both formal and informal. A democratic nation on the surface, Mubarak’s majority party routinely wins 90+% of the vote, amidst widespread allegations of voter fraud and intimidation.
Another significant piece is the recent return of Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, who says, “The people, especially the young people, want me to lead the transition. I will not let them down.” He is back in Egypt despite serious threats against his life. One might wonder who is behind these threats when examining statements such as this: “I am pretty sure that any freely and fairly elected government in Egypt will be a moderate one, but America is really pushing Egypt and pushing the whole Arab world into radicalization with this inept policy of supporting repression.”
(Forgive me for asking, but who are these Americans supporting repression? You? No! Me? I mean, well, yes, I have repressed personal issues too, but I spend time everyday trying to undercut their illusory foundation. So, again, who can these Americans ElBaradei is speaking of be? I do not think he is imagining them. Maybe we should say something…?
For example: “Hello Everyone In The World. For the record: the individuals posing as Americans who subversively support global terror and repression do not represent me, my values, or the stated values of the nation of my birth. I do not, have not, and will never consent to the imposition of violence, be it military, economic, social or otherwise, against any portion of our Family here on Earth. I (we) expect to be extensively consulted before another secret dime gets flipped down the black-hole CIA-Pentagon budget. Seriously, buy books, not bombers already. Health services (especially for veterans) are the perennial exception; by all means, spare no expense on healing.
Or something like that…)
This is a peaceful revolution, people! There have been some reports of rock-throwing, and not to make excuses, but that is an understandable response to being quarantined by rubber bullets, batons, smoke and noise bombs. The vast majority of reports are of citizens taking on the role of peace-keepers, in the complete absence of uniformed police. The military is in a quandary about how to help.
I’ve been tuned into the BBC news feed for the past 36 hours; here are some of the most inspiring quotes I’ve been able to transcribe from various contributors:
From an eyewitness: “Some police have shed their uniforms and cast their weapons into the Nile in a show of solidarity with the Egyptian people”
From a correspondent: “One young man got it into his head to attack a McDonald’s advertisement, and he was held down and dragged away by a dozen other protesters, with everyone yelling Peace, Peace!”
From Roger Cohen’s 1/27/11 Editorial in the NYTimes: “The freedom to connect is a tool of liberation — and it’s powerful.
I am writing this on my return from Tunisia, where Facebook gave young protesters the connective muscle to oust an Arab dictator, and as I watch on YouTube images of brave… young Egyptians confronting the clubs and water-cannons of President Hosni Mubarak’s goons.
“All they have, all they have,” says one bloodied protester of the brute force he’s encountered. Yes, when all you have is a big hammer — and that’s what’s left in the arsenal of decaying, nepotistic Arab regimes — everything looks like a nail.
From another correspondent on the streets: “Protesters were observed stopping cars and searching them, and if it was found they had been looting, those items were confiscated. A kind of self-policing vigilante-ism.”
From a young woman involved in the march: “They were firing at the people who said loudly ‘we are just a peaceful march’… the protesters are totally against any sort of violence or destruction… there were cars and buildings on fire but this was made by the government… the protesters carry nothing but a message. [The violence] will never put me off, on the contrary… this is the time. this is the time…”
A correspondent: “One thing I did notice is police setting tires on fire and blaming the protesters. One young woman came up to me crying, saying, “Look what they’re doing to us; they’re making us look violent.”
CNN correspondent (quoted from second clip below): “Basically you see old people, young people, Christians, Muslims, students, workers, business men, everything, every sort of kind of person you can imagine here.”
From Al Jazeera English: “Mohamed ElBaradei says in speech: “We are seeking a change of regime. President Mubarak should step down. We should head towards a democratic state through a new government and free democratic elections…The whole world should realize that the Egyptians are not going home until their demands are realized…We are talking about taking down the Pharaonic dictatorship…”
“Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said “party thugs” associated with the Egyptian regime’s Central Security Services – in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons – have been looting in Cairo.” [Just like happened at the most recent G20 meetings in Toronto]
“10:06pm GMT — “more than 100 people have died in the protests in the past 24 hours – including 25 in Cairo, 38 in Suez and 36 in Alexandria.”
ElBaradei: “I respect him very much, but I am disappointed in Obama… talking about supporting the Egyptian people, and supporting the government… you can’t have your cake and eat it… trusting Mubarak with democratic reform is an oxymoron…The US is losing a lot of credibility here, particularly when people perceive it as supporting authoritarian regimes in the name of stability and ignoring the plight of the Egyptian people and other people who are being oppressed…”
“Eyewitness reports that ‘thugs’ have shut off running water to many homes… the same thugs that were reported instigating looting before… There is an absolute absence of police… the military is hesitant to fire on anyone… It is a complete effort by the citizens to prevent looting, to prevent violence…”
“No human being wants to see violence…”
Primary internet and telephone service has been shut down. This tact appears to be backfiring, as it serves to enrage people even further and, as reported by one elderly woman, forces them out into the streets in order to find out what is going on. Some long distance calls are possible, and there are still some ISP’s in operation (specifically that which supports the stock market), but cell phone service is completely cut off, attempting to make it difficult for protesters to organize themselves, although that doesn’t seem to be an issue. BBC reporter Adrian Miles reports that short-wave radio is being employed in some places, and that satellite-based phone and internet is still in operation.
The Muslim Brotherhood is pledging support of this “mass popular movement, led by the youth,” while acknowledging that it cannot be reduced to a single political party. They state that they are not a fringe group, but that they have no intent of becoming part of any future government, have no intention of nominating a presidential candidate.
There are now protests in major cities all around North America, including but not limited to Washington DC, Los Angeles and Toronto. They say they are there to show solidarity with the people in Egypt, as well as send a message to the American government that they should stop supporting the Mubarak regime.
Here are some video’s (not for the faint of heart):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HO4vBjS4XU&feature=player_embedded
Includes an interview with Mohamed ElBaradei:
Crossing the bridge, the tide turns: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXbRdumboZ0&feature=player_embedded
Unarmed people forcing troops to retreat:
From SkyNews: a group of women being beaten by riot police; pleas for “Freedom! Please, freedom for the Egyptian people…” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWtyLutTmuc
An Egyptian man speaks inspiring words through tears. Be moved, be human, celebrate:
The Demands of the Egyptian People
1. The downfall of the regime of Hosni Mubarak and his ministers
2. The cessation of Emergency Law
5. The formation of a new, non-military government with the interests of the Egyptian people at heart.
6. The constructive administration of all of Egypt’s resources.
Here is an Al Jazeera English interview with State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “News Hour anchor Shihab al-Rattansi repeatedly pushed Crowley to own up to the hypocrisy and absurdity of the administration’s position of offering mild criticism of Mubarak while continuing to ply him with billions of dollars in aid and political support.”
IMPORTANT! Amnesty International is encouraging people to call the Egyptian Embassy in Washington DC in order to “Please urge the Egyptian government to respect human rights, rein in the security forces, and restore access to all communications in Egypt.” Emails are not getting through, so they say a phone call is really the most effective way to send the message, and to let them know that the world is watching. The number is (202) 895-5400. AI wants to “make their phone ring off the hook,” and it appears to be working. My several attempts to get through have rung and rung until the machine disconnects it.
For up to the moment Twitter updates, these are the best folks to follow: @aymanm, @nolanjazeera, and @ rawyarageh
I will be updating this post as events continue to unfold.
David Telfer McConaghay was born on planet Earth. Since that fateful first day of Spring in ’86, he has wandered across its surface in search of something which, when found, kindly insists that he continue searching. His immediate family lives in Minneapolis, MN, though he also feels at home in Washington D.C.; Grass Valley, CA; Bogotá, Colombia; and now, almost Denver, CO. He completed his B.A. in English & Creative Writing at The George Washington University in 2008. The Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm (Vrindavan of the West) is the primary source of any yogic inspiration David aka Sri Nivasa may express. He plays on Facebook HERE.