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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt: a New Day Dawns

"My Lord, What a Morning!"

The people of Egypt have won!

Some scattered thoughts as their country begins a new life.

First comes a fervent prayer that what happens in the next days will bring them peace and a road to genuine opportunity and prosperity.

Second is a recognition that the Egyptian people are strong and proud. I have a friend in California whose sister has lived for many years in a neighboring country. Kim, who visits there regularly, wrote to me in an email Friday afternoon, "the Egyptian people are great. Very nice, wonderful spirit, fun, [they] had been suppressed and tortured for so long. . . . The army . . . and the people are one. The people have respect for the army in Egypt. . . . When the army wouldn't fire on the people, and actually formed a buffer between the people and the police, I knew the people had won."

Perhaps a manifestation of the people's spirit is the fact that they spent Saturday afternoon sweeping up Tahrir Square with mops and brooms. They were sweeping up the dirt and their own debris from living there the past number of days, but they were also sweeping up "the old" and making it ready for "the new".

Third, I am quite amazed at the force, the electricity suddenly evident in any people who have cellphones and social networks. Little did I realize when I wrote here on January 18 about my young holiday guests and their smartphones and their apps, that their counterparts in North Africa were on the way to making literal revolution with theirs.

Fourth, this is now a broader phenomenon, running through that region like an express train. This morning, the train has already steamed ahead to the next stop, Algeria, where thousand of people have defied a ban on demonstrations to do just that.

Lastly, all this excitement notwithstanding, there is, of course, room for considerable apprehension. Will Muslim extremists get the upper hand in a new government? Various pundits, along with my friend Kim, make logical arguments on both sides of this significant issue. Perhaps the mere fact that we are all sensitive to it can foster realism and restraint in facing it.

Also, further concern comes because one cause of the Egyptian people's discomfort has not gone away. A source of economic stress particularly impacting people of lower incomes is that prices of food and energy are rising sharply around the world. This pocketbook issue will clearly be the topic of a more focused and detailed discussion here very soon; for the moment, though, we have to know that it will continue to weigh on the welfare of peoples in Egypt and elsewhere, sapping their purchasing power and/or straining the government programs that provide subsidies which must now increase.

All of this means challenges for the people and for those who would administer their interim government in the immediate future. Part of our prayer is that such mundane matters don't hamper their strides toward political and social freedom.

In this historic moment, we leave you today with some of the words to the spiritual whose title formed our exclamation at the beginning:

My Lord, what a morning!
My Lord, what a morning!
Oh, my Lord, what a morning
when the stars begin to fall.

Oh, you will hear the trumpet sound
to wake the nations underground,
Looking to my Lord's right hand
when the stars begin to fall.

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