Saturday, February 12, 2011

Freedom in Egypt

I don't know whether the overthrow of Mubarak will lead to democracy or to some new form of tyranny. But I do know that this moment, right now, is a flowering of human liberty. It's a beautiful thing to see.

In the short-term, it's certainly good. In the middle-term, the consequences are far from clear. Perhaps that's why the US aligned itself with so many dictators in the Arab world -- there was no way to see a path that led dependably out of tyranny towards stability and freedom. That remains true. But to put the same truth in different words, it seems clear now that there was no way to move toward freedom except by dismissing the old order.

So now we are in a state of uncertainty, but one graced with the beauty of an act of self-liberation. There's a moment like this in the movie Pleasantville, a movie about the irresistible wish for freedom and about its costs. What will happen next, one of the characters asks another, after their life together has been turned upside down, and she answers that she doesn't know.

What will happen to us? We just don't know. We never know. But if we are to move forward towards an ideal of free people living justly together, we have to move. And now we -- that is, the people of Egypt -- have.

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