Update via Reuters: “Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down and the vice president has named a military council to run the country’s affairs…”
Egypt is a focal point for the history and development of all three Abrahamic faiths, and all three of those faiths reject the use of drugs. But last night, Egypt was high. And then, it crashed.
Egyptians weren’t high on drugs yesterday, of course. But as the rumor mill kicked into high gear, fueled by leading statements from the military, as well as media leaks, the mood in Egypt turned into one of jubilancy and elation. The expectation was that Mubarak would step down – for hours, people thought that he had already fled the country, and that the state address he was scheduled to give would be a confirmation that he had resigned his position.
Jubilancy and elation slowly gave way to nerve-wracking tension – the address was delayed, and delayed and delayed – and as people waited, you could see them exhibiting signs similar to drug use, frankly. People were running in and out of bathrooms, as their bodily functions went into over-drive – people began binging on food, trying to manage the adrenaline rush that was pumping into them. All caused by the incredible anticipation of the expected — and long-awaited — announcement.
As I witnessed, and shared, in that explosion of emotion, I thought of similar upsurges of changes in the human condition, and was reminded of the idea of “rapture” in religion, where the human being has become so overcome by a spiritual state, he loses control, temporarily, of himself. Spiritual masters warn in medieval texts of letting that kind of state run away with one, because it can be so undirected and disperses one’s focus on the Divine itself.
I also recalled how for so long, people considered religion to be the opiate of the masses – but that in this situation, it was their political situation which was their opiate. It was their political situation that completely overtook them – and that “high” that was building up over the night, only to come crashing to a massive anti-climax with Mubarak’s speech.
After hearing what he had to say, there was disappointment, shock, and then anger from the people of Tahrir, and the people around the country who are a part of what I have grown to call “the Square” – this movement of people who simply want a new start for this country, that goes beyond Tahrir Square. An incredible array of emotions, all in a very short time, reacting to Mubarak’s refusal to treat their demands with seriousness.
There were people crashing so hard from the immense high that there were calls for valium to be delivered to Tahrir Square – it was that intense for people. The short summaries that people gave were simple, with all of them essentially being: “He told us to go to hell if we want, and he’s more than happy to show us there if we don’t know the way.” The anger that was stirred upon people on Thursday night was palatable – one could taste it in the air, and could feel it surging through the crowds. Many people here are predicting that today, on Friday, there will be violence – not because the protestors will become violent, but because they suspect that they will be turned into martyrs by a state that refuses to hear them, and will not tolerate them speaking for much longer. Those predictions come from the same people who say that in the name of the martyrs who have already been taken, they are more than willing to join them to ensure that their loss was not in vain.