There is nothing new about disturbing reports coming out of the Middle East. We've grown accustomed to stories of death and destruction in that region of the world. Indeed, we have become a bit cynical about it. But somehow, the current happenings in Egypt seem especially upsetting. Perhaps that's because at some level, here in the West, we all share in the long and amazing story of Egypt. We've recounted its wonders in classrooms and museums. We've marveled at the enduring nature of the pyramids and the ongoing mystery of the Sphinx. We've sung about it in spirituals like "Go Down Moses." We've explored it with fictional characters like Indiana Jones. Perhaps, what we've forgotten, though, is that it is a real country, with real people, who have some very real challenges in life.
The current uprising has brought to the fore some of the concerns of the populace there. Despite what some have called thirty years of apathy, the citizens of Egypt appear to have come to the end of their patience with Hosni Mubarek, the longtime President of Egypt. As of this writing, Amnesty International reports that ten people have died in the fighting, and hundreds have been injured. And over the weekend, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo was attacked, leaving a fair amount of damage to priceless antiquities. Looters even ripped off the heads of two mummies. (Personally, I was impressed by the courage and wisdom of ordinary citizens who tried to protect the museum with a human chain around it's perimeter.)
In Egypt, the fate of both the living and the dead seem to be literally interwoven. And, in one very real way, isn't that always the case? Sometimes we try to divorce ourselves from the past, but it is always with us. We carry it in all that we say and do. Yes, we needn't be enslaved by it, but we always need to acknowledge its power and its influence in our lives. Trying to destroy it never really works. It comes back to haunt us--for good or ill. Our ability to successfully come to terms with the past, greatly influences not only the present, but the future as well.
I have no expertise in Egyptian affairs, past or present! And others will need to weigh in on how the current problems can be resolved. But meanwhile, we can, as we have so often before, learn from this ancient culture, as we seek to deal with our own histories--as individuals and as a nation.
(Photo Credit: Newscom)