One reason why grassroots revolution is sweeping the Arab world is the enormous income gap between the rich and the poor. “Do you think that kind of class struggle can happen here in the
“What do you mean can it happen here?” he asks back. “It’s already happening! Just look around you, a few blocks from here, and you can see how many Americans have become destitute. We have become one of the most unjust societies in the world.”
We chant slogans - 1,000 Americans strong - who have gathered at the United Nations Plaza. “Down, Down, Hosni Mubarak! Yasqut, Yasqut, Hosni Mubarak!”
Jack Kornfield also feels strongly that Egyptians must take control of their own destiny. The soft-spoken person becomes agitated when he talks about how the
Hassan, an Egyptian, is a doctoral student in a
“No justice, no peace,” exhorts an organizer from the makeshift dais, and we respond in unison.
Farida, a young Egyptian student, narrates how she tried to get her voter card in
Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, women, men, babies in strollers and veterans in wheelchairs, the young, the old, Imams, Rabbis and Priests filled the Plaza. Colorful signs sprouted everywhere: “Stop U.S. Military Aid to
Maryam Bin Salah, a doctoral student from
Imam Abdul Aziz of
The Imam chokes with emotion but recovers: “I have a cousin, a young fellow, in
Tim Paulson, a labor union representative tells the gathering that Americans must learn from Egyptians “so we know how to secure our own rights here in
A new slogan reverberates around the Plaza:
Ben Ali Yesterday, Mubarak Today, Qaddafi Tomorrow!
Mo, an activist with the Jewish Voice for Peace (http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/ - Israelis and Palestinians. Two people. One Future), told me: “It is not for presidents and kings to give people their freedom. Freedom is God’s gift to people. We must be united together.”
Mo wants the
“O Mubarak can’t you see, Time to join Ben Ali.” The rhyming slogans are catchy and energizing and make us smile.
More people are pouring in. I realize with a shock that three hours have already passed. When stories and images of oppressed people breaking free from their oppressors grip us, time becomes inconsequential.
People sitting on the fences say that demonstrations, rallies and protest marches don’t change anything. What they don’t understand is that, at the very least, they change the participants in subtle and significant ways. Change without can come only from change within.
What Tunisians have achieved, and Egyptians are poised to achieve, is nothing short of miraculous. It’s still a long way to freedom and democracy but the first steps have been taken. The least we can do is show them, “We are with you, all the way!”