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Putting a Smile on Human Dignity

The stamina, and a victorious resolve of the people of Egypt brings back memories. For some of us, who experienced the 1980 Solidarity protests, and the ultimate collapse of the regime in Poland, smiles and tears painted our faces when the announcement was made that the Egypt’s strongman, Hosni Mubarak, has stepped down. The message, the sounds and the images coming from Cairo, as then they did from Gdansk, meant simply – a victory for human freedom, rights and dignity.

It was the late Summer of 1980, when the Poles took to the streets, Lech Walesa become an icon of human solidarity, and with scores of brave citizens marched and did not give-up, until the changes were ushered in. There was plenty of tear gas and the hundreds of security thugs attacking the crowds. It was similar and at once different in scope in Poland, and in Egypt. The stamina of the Egyptian women, men and children to be resolute and peaceful – a dignified movement of saying ‘No!’ – will be the image we will remember.

A social movement cum national movement put a smiling face on human dignity once again.

In Egypt, the use of social media undergirded the intensity of the protest. It brought thoughts of nostalgia when it was the leaflets and monitored phone calls that aided the Gdansk and Warsaw solidarity movement. New technology for human rights, I said to myself. It works and will expand our opportunities to speak the message of freedom. Instantly, and everywhere.

Remembering the demonstrations in Warsaw, we were there, too. Our two-year old Michal got a taste of a tear gas cloud as we run, and carried him out of danger while we joined in a moment of history. He will not remember this, but as we later recalled our stories, he smiled with pride.

Not easy to gather coherent thoughts while still watching a TV set pregnant with human tears and jubilation in Tahrir Square. What transpires is a reaffirmation about our human destiny – life in freedom. This freedom is to be cherished and continue propel all of us to etch a life of respect and love.

For the people of faith, it all underscores that we flourish when we are free to express ourselves and practice our beliefs without undue restrictions and intimidation. In the days ahead, the Egyptians will be tested by how freedom will shake its hands with responsibility. Will their daily practice of full respect for the freedom of conscience be an example in the Middle East? The nation will flourish if conditions of social harmony are created and defended. Our brothers and sisters in Egypt should also expect the world-wide humanity will step forward to embrace them.

The Egyptian people – in their social, cultural and religious diversity – took a historical turn on their national road. They are reclaiming their everydayness in a newly found freedom in Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez. Though there will be hard days to experience in the future, the peaceful social revolution of the Tahrir Square bids well for the future of the country. You did it, Egyptians!


Ray Dabrowski was Director of Communication for the Seventh-day Adventist Church from 1994-2010. He blogs at Pushing the Borders.

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