A Yearning That Beats In Every Heart
Downtown Cairo in Peaceful Times
A young Egyptian man pulled me aside at a meeting of the World Association of Christian Communicators in Cairo a couple of years ago to tell me his story. He was at his wit’s end with police corruption and harassment.
After repeated shakedowns while coming into his suburban neighborhood from work downtown, he refused to pay the petty bribes of the traffic cops. They took away his drivers license. To retrieve it, he had to make an appointment with a civil office weeks later.
A family member had to drive him, complicating the family’s schedule and making tenuous his ability to get to work. Meeting after meeting to recover his license was cancelled and re-scheduled. Now his business was affected, his family life disrupted and his income at risk.
While it’s true that poverty breeds social instability, so does corrupt government and discrimination. The millions who are demanding change in Egypt today are unified by their multiple and unique indignities, affronts and experiences of oppression.
Burdens of corruption weigh Egypt down
When corruption takes hold it eats at the social order as worms through wood. From Tiananmen to Tahrir to Times Square, the story’s the same. We want to be respected. We want a voice. We want justice.
The daily indignities, large and small, accumulate, and with the right catalyst, explode.
The real story from Egypt isn’t what’s happening in the streets but what’s happening in the human heart. I’d like to think that the young Christian businessman was among those who linked arms to protect Muslim protestors kneeling in prayer in Tahrir Square, for the yearning for dignity and freedom is universal. It beats in every heart.