The stories of significant moments in history get passed on over time in conversations that usually begin with the question: “Where were you when…?” For many in the world, today is one such day.
Last night, as we prepared to go to sleep, we shared with the people of Egypt the disappointing message from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he was not leaving the country. This morning, as I was eating my oatmeal, I decided to turn on the news (which is something I rarely do) to see how the people in Tahrir Square were reacting.
I was stunned. Moments earlier history had happened. Mubarak had resigned and left Cairo and a growing throng of multiple thousands of citizens had exploded in joyous celebration.
What struck me as I watched was that this is an example of the collective creating of historic change.
In an interview with CNN, Wael Chonim, the Egyptian Google marketing director whose arrest and 12-day imprisonment catapulted him into a prominent voice for the people seeking change, pointed out that the seeds of creating this sea change began in June, 2010 on Facebook as people joined up to support a vision of democracy for their country.
Much has – and will be – written about the events that led up to the initial protest in Tahrir Square and the 18 days in which these Co-Creators stood, slept, defended themselves (as 300 of their number were killed), and ultimately accomplished an historic next-step in manifesting their vision.
One might make the case that this movement was rooted in the Victim Orientation in which Mubarak was seen as a Persecutor and “problem to solve” and to react to. Indeed, many stories have been told of a wide array of victimization that occurred during his 30 year rule.
Instead, it seems to me that the actions that have taken place have been clearly rooted in a Creator Orientation.
As I understand it, the movement truly began (as all creating does) with the passionately and widely held vision of true democracy. After many months of countless social media (and face-to-face) interactions, and – very importantly – a commitment to nonviolence in creating their outcome, the spark to action came from the success of Tunisians in running off their autocratic leaders.
All of their “baby steps” finally let to the quantum leap of today.
As the world watched the 18-day drama unfold, rather than reacting to the beatings unleashed in an extraordinary day of ferocious attacks by Mubarak “loyalists,” the core group in the Square tenaciously maintained their commitment to nonviolent resistance. They insisted that the major inhibitor to the vision of democracy was the rule of Mubarak and that he had to go in order for the country to realize that vision.
During his conversation with CNN, Wael Chonim spoke as a Challenger and a Creator:
“I just want to say to Hosni Mubarak and to Suleiman and to all those people who thought that being in power means you can oppress people… at the end of the day, we have a choice. We made our choice, by the way, and you should have respected that.”
Make no mistake: today’s “quantum leap” toward bringing into being a free and full democracy in Egypt is, in many ways, only the beginning. Creating is an ongoing process and much work lies ahead.
That said, in the process of creating, there are times to pause, take stock – and celebrate.