About four weeks ago, I posted a piece about Egypt. It was in reference to a news article about Muslim Egyptians rallying around their Coptic Christian brethren, using themselves as human shields so that the Copts could attend Christmas Mass.
To me, that story was a shining beacon of hope. It was a lesson to all of us in both the Eastern and Western world that people of differing religions and ideals, who have been traditional enemies, could make peace and coexist side by side. And I imagined that somewhere, Gandhi must have been smiling.
But this story of inspiration was overshadowed by the violent events that occurred in Arizona that same weekend. They were contrasting stories, the ones in Arizona and Egypt. Unfortunately, it was the former that captured our collective imagination here in the West. The Egyptian story going all but unnoticed.
Today, Egypt is awash in violence. Today, the West is taking notice of what is going on in that corner of the world. Because of our insatiable need for sensationalistic news in the age of 24/7 reporting, Western news outlets are characterising the unrest in Egypt as "rioting", "looting", "mob-rule". Chaos certainly makes for better headlines than peace and brotherhood.
We have decided here in the West, that this citizen uprising is about democracy. We have decided, in our arrogance, that the Egyptian people want to be more like "us". I can't honestly say if this is the case though I'm quite sure the word "democracy" is being thrown around quite liberally among those trying to bring down the government. Unfortunately, the result of violent uprisings such as this is usually the installation of a regime more oppressive than the one it fought to replace. And the country becomes even more unstable.
So now we take notice of that most ancient of countries where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. Now that it is being torn asunder and people are dying needlessly. What a pity we didn't pay closer attention to the events of four weeks ago when Egypt was delivering a universal message of peace and brotherhood to the world. It makes me wonder if we civilized folk are ready for that message. It appears we are more concerned about being entertained than about harmony with our fellow man.