A Letter to a Dear Friend (Because I Care)

الأحد 07 آب 2011

By Sara Obeidat

*Despite the Egyptian Revolution’s remarkable impact on the populations of oppressed countries world wide, there is a sizeable segment that remains opposed to the ousting of former President Mubarak and to the revolution as a whole. Unfortunately, the majority of this segment tends to be from the elite classes, who ironically are the recipients of the best education and exposure. Because of their lack of approval of the situation, they refuse to participate in the changes taking place, which is dangerous because they are the ones that can make the biggest difference. Many of us definitely have people either in our families, group of friends, or social circle that share this view. This post is written for them. It is not an attack, it is simply as it says, a letter to a dear friend.



My Dear Friend,

I think we have known each other long enough to realize that when it comes to politics, you and I will never see eye to eye. If I am on one side, you are definitely on the other. Our arguments are endless and very often end with us laughing it off as we agree to disagree, because there is really no point.

Today, however, I cannot laugh it off.

My Dear friend, no matter how much we disagree, no matter how different we are, and no matter how much we say our countries have different situations, we have one thing in common. It is the same thing that brought us together in the first place, and has enabled us to maintain our friendship for so many years. My dear friend, you and I are of the privileged and we are of the educated, therefore, we have a chance to lead.

My Dear friend, your country has just had a revolution. Your president was on trial today. And you, my friend, remain stubborn, resilient, and opposed to any type of change that attempts to bring an end to the 30 years of tyranny your nation has endured. You remain a Mubarak supporter, even though Mubarak no longer holds any type of authority nor will he ever. You view your fellow countrymen that are demanding change in contempt, and you refuse to give in to the tides of reform.

Therefore, my dear friend, I write you this letter, not because I think you are a bad person, for if I did then you would not be my friend. Not because I want to win an argument, but simply, because I care:

Because I care, allow me to point out to you that you cannot continue to live in the past. The ex-tyrant that you once supported is gone, and whether you supported him or not, there is no point in dwelling on the idea that he may come back, for you need to move forward and look at what has been left behind; your country.

Because I care, I will point out to you that loving a government, a political party, or a head of state to this extent is extremely dangerous and unhealthy; for I urge you to redirect that energy and love towards your country, which includes the millions of men and women who have suffered from that very president and his regime.

Because I care, I’ll be honest with you and say that the argument you use where you say “Mubarak is an old man, he is sick, and should not be held accountable for his actions and put in front of a court room at this stage” is flawed. For it was he who assumed the leadership role for 30 years, it was he who purposely elected to remain in power despite his age and his health; and it was he who accepted to be President of a nation and therefore take responsibility for all that happens under his watch.

Because I care, I will also ask you to refrain from your comeback of “he did not know what was taking place, it was the people around him who were corrupt.” You and I both know that as president, he had the power to choose his advisors wisely, and if he actually did not know what was going on (which I doubt is the case) then, to be honest, he deserves to be put on trial for laziness.

My dear friend, because I care, I would like to tell you that, when defending Mubarak, your argument of “he could have done what Qaddafi did in Libya or Assad did in Syria but chose not to and stepped down,” is actually insulting to your intelligence that I know you possess before it is to mine.

My dear friend, you saw Mubarak in a cage in the court room and were infuriated because as the head of state for 30 years, and as a sick man, it is disgraceful for him to be presented in such a degrading way. Allow me to remind you that it was Mubarak himself who used the cage to imprison all his opponents for the past 30 years. Allow me to remind you of the countless elderly prisoners, the sick men, and the tortured detainees that also endured illness and weakness due to the torture that became standard practice under this man’s watch.

Because I care, I urge you to ask yourself the question that if you are feeling this sorry for one elderly man and his family, how can you not feel sorry for the 850 people who died fighting for your country and their families?

Because I care, I ask you to be honest with yourself and realize that your claims to being patriotic are false if you compare yourself to the youth who stood in Tahrir Square fighting for the dignity of their nation.

Because I care, I want you to ask yourself why are you siding against your people? Why do we, the privileged, with all the education we possess, find it so easy to understand these complicated economic theories and yet find it so hard to understand where our own people are coming from? Is it because Mubarak reminds us of the people around us? Is it because he has no beard, he wears a suit, just like your father and mine, he vacations in the same places we go to, he looks “modern”, he doesn’t like the Islamists, and under his regime we were of the few to actually see the fruits of his achievements? Is it because his image is so close to our own and so we are bound to feel sympathy? Just as a white audience is bound to sympathize with a white character in a play because it can relate to that image as their own? Why are we unable to relate to the men and women fighting in Tahrir, nor can we understand why they resort to this chaos and violence that has plagued this once “peaceful” country? Is it because we don’t know anyone who has been tortured, nor have any of our families felt the tragedy of having someone “disappear” for months or years and eventually find out that he or she has been in a prison all this time? Is it because we never felt there was anything we needed to URGENTLY say against the policies of our country, because we were the lucky few, and therefore never had the urge to write or speak out against the government and face the bitterness of censorship? Or is it because the bearded men scare us, and so do the women in veils, and so do the poor?

My dear friend, do you fear that the people protesting are resorting to chaos and have no direction? Do you detest the revolutions and say it lacks vision? If so then lead them! Give your opinion! Actively participate and be a part of the change that you wish to see in order to build your country. Do not adopt the role of the bitter critic clinging to the memory of the old days. For if you, the educated, refuse to approach this crucial issue with an open mind, how can you expect the rest of your population to do the same?

My dear friend, don’t you see that you are the key ingredient in making this revolution a success? Do you not know that your choice to stand on the sidelines is a crime in itself because you know better and there has never been a greater need for people like you in your country as much as today ?

My dear friend, because I care, I want to remind you of the power you possess.

Because I care, I encourage you to remember that you are no ordinary person, for you can help your country achieve the extraordinary.

Because I care, I expect you to be remarkable.

My Dear friend, because I care, I ask YOU to care. If you wish to see your nation rise, then help it stand up. If you disapprove of the situation, then do not alienate yourself and leave it to “the rest” to deal with it. Do not take lightly the grievances of the poor or the recipients of injustice. For the people you are siding against have won before, and they will win again. And when that happens, they will remember those who helped them and those who were against them.

When that day comes my dear friend, I can assure you, THEY will NOT care.

And then, I will no longer have a dear friend to fight with over politics.


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