I Toppled a Tyrant. What Did You Do?

الأحد 13 شباط 2011

By Christine Makhamra

We started reading about our forefathers’ conquests in first grade. We learnt about the likes of Salaheddin Al Ayyoubi who stood in the face of merciless enemies and freed our land. We learnt to glorify them and raise them to superhero status, not only for their gallant acts but also for the lack of similar heroism in our days, or our parents’ days for that matter. Soon as we learnt about the foregone heroes of the Arab world, we realized that they were merely a thing of the past; they belonged to an era when men still believed that they have the right to live a dignified life, to put food on their families’ tables, to be respected by their rulers; things our generation has come to believe are only a luxury the West gets to enjoy. We realized that the thing about superheroes is that they do not really exist. We only see them on the pages of comic books and history textbooks.

Our generation of Arabs learned to be jaded very early on. We yielded to the fact that we live under dictatorships, where our opinions do not count. We got used to being called disrespectful and apathetic because of the Lady Gaga we listen to and the gel we wear in our hair. We were accustomed to being told to shut up when we wanted to speak out about the injustices that we see everyday in our own countries. Many of us lost the sense of belonging to our countries. The sense of pride we were told that we should have by our history textbooks was just a figment of the author’s imagination. How could the land that gave birth to our parents who keep putting us down whenever we want to speak up, how could it have given birth to the heroes we incessantly hear about?

We got our answer on Friday when the “Facebook Generation” achieved what our parents’ generation never even came close to achieving; what our parents were scared to even imagine. To call what happened on 11 February 2011 a revolution is an outrageous understatement; because to anyone who is familiar with the experience of today’s Arab youth, this is a paradigm shift to say the least. After being witnesses to our parents’ impotence over the years and knowing that looking up to them will bring us no answers, we decided to take matters in our own hands. We knew that what our parents lacked in courage and imagination, we make up for with passion and Facebook applications.  We knew that we did not want our children to one day look at us and wonder why their parents did not stand up for their right; why their parents did not fight for them; why their parents let tyrants get rich while they and their children are left starving. No, our children will now look at their parents with pride. They will know that the heroes they read about in their history textbooks are the same people who read their bedtime stories. They will know that their parents were willing to die just so that their children would not have to. On Friday, our generation has finally tasted what victory feels like. 80 million Salaheddins were born and none of them are pretend-superheroes that you only find in books. Today, we are all Egyptians.