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Monday, February 14, 2011

Egyptian Zen

Egypt's brave people showed extraordinary resilience during their facebook revolution, rising up against 30 years of governmental tyranny. Therefore, I hope the Egyptians will kindly accept my Zen advice knowing it is offered with extreme admiration.

Zen Buddhism is not my specialty, but having watched the movie Charlie Wilson's War recently, the character played by the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman tells a story worth repeating here.  His character warns Congressman Wilson about the Zen of winning a war.  I'm adapting the story to Egypt and it goes something like this:

"A young Egyptian boy gets a pony for his birthday.  His village is so happy, they say 'isn't this good?'. But, the father says, 'We'll see'.  So, later, the boy badly damages his leg when he falls off the pony.  The village people say, 'this is not a good thing'. But the father says 'We'll see'.  Then, Egypt goes to war with Israel in 1972, but the boy cannot serve because of his injured leg, so the village says 'this is a good thing'. But the father says, "We'll see".  At the end of the story, the outcome of Charlie Wilson's War was not what he intended when he began his Congressional deal making.  His victory was short lived.

In other words, although the Egyptian people are justifiably exalted about their recent revolution to overturn a dictator, the unintended consequences and benefits are yet to be determined. To coin a sometimes overused cliche: "Freedom is Not Free". There may be a price yet to be paid for the people's victory.

Facebook gets credit for providing the matrix to fuel the people's demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak; but it was the dictator himself and his autocratic rule that caused the Egyptian revolution. 

The Middle East is now a tinder box as a result of two back to back revolutions fueled by the power of social networking media - Tunesia and then Egypt.  Two revolutions will cause a physics-lab type of equal and opposite reaction on the part of other Middle Eastern dictators, of which there are apparantly several.

In the Zen philosophy, facts are not necessarily what they seem.
Egypt's euphoria may be short lived.  "We'll see".

*Note:  March 3, 2011 addendum -  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12634117 
"Egypt's Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq Resigns"

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