Lessons in Manliness from the Egyptian Revolution

by A Manly Guest Contributor on February 11, 2011 · 228 comments

in Blog

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Yasser El Hadari, an AoM reader from Egypt.

If you’ve been watching the news, I’m sure you know that the Egyptian people have rocked the Middle East in their effort for self-rule and democracy. As I sit typing this, the newly appointed Vice President issued a statement of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation and his appointment of the Armed Forces Supreme Council to take power. It is the dawn of a new era. No delays, no lies, no half-solutions. We wanted our freedom. The temple of Corruption had to be toppled. No matter who supported it, be it the Army, thugs, the West, the East or even the planet Mars, the regime that has humiliated us and stole our rights and freedoms had to go. Period.

As I write this, the revolution has been on for eighteen days. During those eighteen days, my life has changed on a scale that I would have never imagined in my life. I am turning 24 in July, and in November 2010 I had just completed my dental internship, earning my license and Dental Union membership. Later on I opened an e-commerce business to make ends meet as I pursued higher studies. Who would have imagined that starting from the 25th of January, I would shift my activities to a neighborhood guard member, lumberjack and patrolman; then to an amateur online activist, protester, bodyguard and a small-scale speaker for the cause.

As I sit writing this, I look back at the past days, and have come to a conclusion: they have made a better man of me. Every stage I spent, from sitting at home watching the news and discussing the revolution, to guarding my neighborhood then actually participating in the protests, have taught me real-life lessons in being a better man. I seriously have felt a change in my character and perception, and this has inspired me to submit this article to one of my favorite sites, The Art of Manliness.

Lessons from the Neighborhood Patrols

I have to admit, I was involved in the revolution quite late. In the beginning I thought it didn’t affect me, that some reforms would be introduced and the protesters would go home. But Friday the 28th came, around 300 protesters were killed by live ammunition and 5000 more injured, and prisons and detention centers were mysteriously opened as the police disappeared, flooding the streets with convicts, and Cairo and other cities were ablaze in riots. To add insult to injury, the government shut down the internet. Only one word resonated in our minds: scare tactics–submit or face chaos. We were determined to prove the government wrong. Saturday afternoon we were in the streets to protect our homes, armed with whatever we had and setting up checkpoints in the streets. We stood guard daily, only letting go when local businesses started operating at night again and the police were returning to the streets. These were my first lessons in the revolution’s school of manliness.

A man adapts. I never expected in my life to stand in a checkpoint, armed with a hatchet and a hunting knife, checking cars and the ID’s of the riders with a case of homemade molotov cocktails beside me. Now that I look back, I’m actually surprised at the change. But my willingness to accept this change, in my opinion, helped me evolve for the better.

A man values his neighbors. The only reason the neighborhood patrols succeeded was the group effort. In my shifts, we caught nine criminals. We had it easy, since our middle class neighborhood was flanked by the Nile and surrounded by two other middle class districts near the center of Cairo. Those living in suburban areas and near prisons had it much worse: They caught tens and in some areas over a hundred criminals. We kept our homes safe, and most importantly we learned to look out for each other and each others’ homes.

A man respects others. Anyone passing our checkpoints had to be checked. We knew the criminals and hired thugs had hijacked sedans, police cars, ambulances, army vehicles and forged police ID’s and stole army uniforms. There were no exceptions. However, we had to appreciate the cooperation of those we searched. We weren’t policemen, nor did we have warrants; on pen and paper we were just concerned citizens. Showing respect helped us earn respect. And it wasn’t hard: it was as simple as saying thank you.

A man doesn’t think with his emotions. Like Mubarak’s speeches, anyone we caught tried to appeal to our emotions. They made up lies as to where their fake ID’s came from, acted dumb and sometimes begged on their knees not to be handed over to the military. I have to admit, sometimes I wanted to believe them, it was easier. But I had to remember the reality, and by reality meaning what he would do if he found his way into my house or my neighbor’s house. Cold hard reality: not everyone shares your good nature; it’s sad but you’ll have to accept it to do your duty.

On the other hand, a man shows compassion. People of all ages stood with me, some as young as nine and others in their seventies and eighties. The old ones were mainly war veterans, but the young ones were in an environment they never experienced in their lives. They acted tough and tried to talk like thugs, but the fear in their eyes appeared at the first cracks of gunfire in the distance. Lesser men made jokes about their age to hide what they lacked in grit. The best men I knew were the ones who gave a pat on the back.

A man is practical, not showy. I was armed with a hatchet and hunting knife, since I had read earlier that anything that couldn’t be used as a tool was dead weight. I used the hatchet to cut firewood to keep us warm at night and the hunting knife, well, cut things. Others were armed with butcher knives, clubs, sticks and swords. Some took it too far to look bad-ass: a man tied two butcher knives together, nunchaku style and hung them round his neck to look threatening. The man just made his neck an easy target. Another point, and I know many will not like to hear this, but a man who owns a gun who knows how to use it is a better man, period. Three men in our neighborhood had guns, and whenever we were on alert, we looked to them, since their reactions determined how the rest of us would respond.

A man doesn’t talk of things he wouldn’t do. No matter how manly I portray people who took part in these patrols, no one has the right to ask others to put their lives or the lives of their loved ones in danger. It also comes to actions: If you’re not willing to use your car as a roadblock, don’t talk about others doing it instead.

A man appreciates the efforts of others. Although I respected the opinions of those who genuinely feared the outcome of the revolution being negative, it was repulsive to hear lesser men belittling the efforts of others. I know of people who make fun of the protesters who were fighting for their rights. Celebrities came on national television to claim that protesters were getting paid and received free meals from Kentucky Fried Chicken to protest against Mubarak. Others had the audacity to belittle the neighborhood patrols, not admitting that our stand in the streets helped them sleep in their beds at night. The funny thing was, the people I expected the most manly stand from were the ones who belittled us. The better men I knew, even if they didn’t participate, appreciated what others were doing for them.

Lessons from Taking Part in the Protests

The first day I participated in protests, my Father and I took a taxi to the nearby Tahrir Square where the bulk of anti-Mubarak protests were taking place. The night before, Mubarak had made a speech promising reforms and fair elections, appealing to citizens’ emotions and staging an aggressive counter-revolution. Upon reaching Tahrir Square we noticed pro-Mubarak demonstrators approaching the area, and the weirder image of horse and camel riders approaching the square. Upon going back, we were continually harassed by plainclothes policemen and supporters of Mubarak who had left their protest area at Mohandesin to disturb the anti-Mubarak protesters. When we got home, the media had launched an all-out offensive on those calling for democracy, branding them as saboteurs and traitors. The Internet was re-linked, and I found posts by people suggesting stability and going back to their ordinary lives. Since then I have alternated between joining protests and rooting for the revolution on Facebook. So started the new lessons in manliness.

A man shouldn’t be afraid of confrontation. Returning from Tahrir square on Bloody Wednesday, a plainclothes policeman harassed my father and I, calling us names and shouting threats as he followed us on foot for three blocks. If I kept quiet, I think he’d have followed us to our house. He didn’t leave us alone until I personally got in his face and made a scene calling any nearby uniformed policemen to deal with him and to show us his ID. Returning home, fuming with anger, I saw my friends posting online about how they wanted things to go back to the way they were and how those fighting for their rights were making a mess and disrupting peoples’ way of life. I called them on how a week ago they wanted change and these people they were putting down were bringing them these changes. Sometimes telling the truth meant no compromises.

A man respects the views of others and doesn’t take them personally. Of course there were those who wanted the revolution to stop simply because they were afraid. And their fear was genuine: there was a threat of chaos, economic collapse, and now foreign military intervention. It was easier of course to dismiss these fears as cowardly or stupid, but the harder thing to do, that in the end gained respect, was appreciating these fears, and helping them understand that freedom came at a high price, and how any short-term losses were worth it. Their disagreement wasn’t a personal attack, and one of the best speakers I knew made a point of letting listeners know that the disagreement wasn’t personal.

A man is presentable under all circumstances. The protests were peaceful. This was what made the revolution powerful. The world had to see that it wasn’t a peasant uprising, class conflict or even a religious takeover: those in the revolution were educated, young, loved Egypt and had realistic expectations of a representative government and civil rights. I participated in two more protests; before deciding to participate I had a haircut. Before going down to the protests I had a shower, shave, and went down dressed as if for a business presentation. In the second protest that started with a march by doctors (which my father, an ob/gyn surgeon, joined with me), I wore my best white coat and carried myself in the most professional manner possible. I was interviewed twice by American and British journalists, and in both cases I spoke with my best English accent. I was representing millions of people calling for change. Being scruffy or speaking in slang was going to misrepresent them.

A man respects the opposite sex. The protests were free of sexual harassment. Men were being searched by men and women searched by women, a lesson airport authorities in some countries can learn. When women passed by we made way for them. If people thought that the protests were a place to meet women, we told them to stay home. It wasn’t a game. The whole world was watching us, and those opposing the revolution were looking for the tiniest speck of dirt to put us down. Acting like a horny teenager was such dirt.

A man respects people who are different. While Muslim protesters were attending Friday Prayers, Christians formed a human wall to protect them. On Sunday when Christian protesters performed Mass, Muslims stood watch to protect them. There was no slurring in the protests. People who attended were of different races, religions, and social backgrounds; black and white, Muslim and Christian,  rich and poor, we stood together. If people deep down inside had a certain hatred for others due to these differences, the protests helped them replace this hatred with understanding. In the end we were all the same. We were all Egyptian, and we all wanted freedom.

A man isn’t afraid of putting his life at risk. In one of the protests I was in, an important online activist was released the night before after 12 days in detention by the secret police, and was coming to Tahrir Square for a speech and a press conference. His younger brother is my colleague, and I found myself going to pick him up from the subway station. My friends and I, for the duration of the journey to the stand, made a human shield around him to keep people from slowing him down, and more importantly, to protect him. After his speech, our human phalanx fought the crowds to take him to the press conference. Most of the people meant well, but I personally considered the possibility of a counter-revolutionary with a concealed weapon harming him to shatter the morale of the revolution. Of course I’m still surprised at taking part in this endeavor, but if I were to repeat it again, I would do it happily even if it would have ended badly. I admired the man, and he was the voice for our youth and presented us well with no personal agenda, a man worth defending.

A man isn’t afraid to admit his mistakes and willingness to change. When discussing the revolution, I’ve been faced with the question of why I didn’t go down to the streets from the first day of the protests, as a way of proving me wrong or proving the point that those supporting the revolution were all talk. Of course, saying I wasn’t politically inclined and was afraid of riots was incongruous and didn’t do justice to the others of my age and similar background who were fighting for my rights. Finally when I had enough I reached for the answer inside me and told the truth: I didn’t believe in myself enough to think my voice mattered, but now that I’ve changed there’s no use talking about the past, since I can’t change it like I’m changing myself. Watching whoever was arguing with me show his respect or shut up was proof enough that an honest answer, however effacing, was worth it.

To conclude this article, I am happy to welcome you to the dawn of a new era. As I type this people are still flocking to the streets, celebrating their new age of self-rule and freedom. I will be forever proud of my nationality as an Egyptian. I promise to be good to Egypt, to use my knowledge to grow her, repaint her picture in the eyes of others. I’m sorry I insulted her when I was younger, for thinking she wasn’t pretty like the others. I’m sorry I gave up on her, for wanting to leave her, and being ignorant of her history. I promise to be a better citizen to Her, a better Egyptian, a better Man.

I just want to impart a final word before I end: I am not the best person ever, and I have my faults, but never forget the value of freedom and dignity. Our people were deprived of those virtues for at least 30 years, and no words can describe how aggressively those in power tried to put us down. They sent hired thugs and plainclothes police to attack and disturb us; it didn’t stop us. They got celebrities to insult the protesters and praise the regime. National television called the protesters saboteurs and they shut down foreign news channels; we ignored them all. They shut down the internet; we promised to shut THEM down. Nearby dictators promised to support the regime. We heard rumors that the US Navy sent the fifth or sixth fleet and the Israeli Defense Force was grouping at the border. It didn’t matter. We were fighting for our rights, and we were ready to face anyone who interfered. The people weren’t afraid of losing what they had, they are winning something greater. When people aren’t afraid of losing, they are free, and great men can only be free men who build great countries.

{ 228 comments… read them below or add one }

201 Scout February 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm

To “CaveTrollWithABeard” and others decrying Devvy’s focus on terminology.. The matter of terminology is a significant one and because of the lack of focus on correct terminology, the meaning of words (important words) has been changed and manipulated by those who would rather confuse than seek truth and shine light on the issues. With the word of Democracy, the manipulation has been so rampant, that very few really know what it means. The word has been manipulated as a code word by communists and other variants of totalitarians for decades. So while most of the population is caught up in a feel-good frat party world of “let’s go democracy”, the dagger of facism and totalitarian rule will slip in without us feeling it – until too late. Thank God for thinking people like Devvy and others who understand the terminology – and point it out with a desire to bring in light and inform others – and and to hell with others who would rather celebrate the ignorance. As a predominately Islamic culture, it is highly unlikely that Egyptians will truly embrace principles of Liberty as done in our Western culture. The best they can likely attain is a modest degree of economic liberty with a secular strongman to hold the Islamic leaders in check (which is exactly what they just dumped). In short, I say they are in for a very bad ride.

202 Trude Blomsoy February 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Dear Mr. El Hadari,
Thank you for a well written and informative article.
It may be a good idea to keep the comments of Devvy and Scout in mind.
Would it be possible and desirable for you to find out how your fellow Egyptians
define “freedom” ? I would very much like to know this. It might make another interesting article.

A Polish economist friend of mine once wrote that in Poland people thought that
freedom meant “getting things for free”. Many Americans seem to be of the same
opinion,and they voted for “change” – and we all got it, good and hard.
May Egypt be wiser.

203 Casual Reader February 16, 2011 at 1:30 am

I don’t think that the protests were free from sexual harassment as you suggest. Reporter Lara Logan was beaten and raped during the protests. Look it up.

204 Matt February 16, 2011 at 1:31 am

I hope they believe freedom is able to live your life without oppression.

205 Yasser El Hadari February 16, 2011 at 7:32 am

@Casual: Actually YOU look it up. The unfortunate incident with Lara Logan happened after Mubarak stepped down, and after I wrote the article. If I knew about it then, I would’ve mentioned it. And if I was there, I would’ve stepped in, but others did it. You failed to mention that she was saved by a group of Egyptian women and 20 Egyptian soldiers and is now recovering in the States. Unfortunately there’s no map provided to explain as to why the intervention was so late, but here is an account of the incident, and details on who exactly was giving journalists a hard time in Egypt.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110215/ts_nm/us_egypt_journalists

The majority of the protesters in Tahrir conducted themselves well, that’s what I saw with my own eyes. Sexual harassment has been a huge problem in Egypt due to unemployment and poor education especially with the poorer sectors of, so for it to be so minimal and at times non-existent in the protest deserved a thumbs-up. And if you review the article, I mentioned those who were entering the protests intending to act like horny teenagers, and those we saw were told by organizers to stay home instead, or be delivered to the military. Not everyone in the word is perfect. People from all sectors of society were present, so expect a minority who don’t exactly fit the mold and were taking advantage of the crowd and noise, especially after the resignation. Doesn’t this happen in other countries?

206 Charles-Philippe February 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

A wonderfully, well-written article. Sadly, I’m at work so had to scan through it. However, I’ll make more time for it later. Best of luck to you in the future, sir!

207 Casual Reader February 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

Fair point. The rape occured after you posted, but it doesn’t change the fact that it happened. Being rescued by Egyptian men and women (in Egypt??!?!? What are the odds?!?!?!!!) is irrelevant. Mobs are mobs, and the fact that this was an Egyptian mob doesn’t make it any better or worse. This wasn’t some magical, happy fun land where bad things didn’t happen. People got hurt during the protests. I’m glad your experience was positive, but we need to keep prespective.

208 Tom February 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

“This wasn’t some magical, happy fun land where bad things didn’t happen. People got hurt during the protests. I’m glad your experience was positive, but we need to keep prespective.”

This.

209 Yasser El-Hadari February 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm

@Casual: I never denied that the rape happened. And the fact that it happened is a disaster: rape is worse than murder, period, and there’s no word to describe the amount of physical and emotional pain she’s in now. I just won’t allow you to put it out of context: good people stepped in to save her life, both civilians and servicemen. This means people have taken responsibilty for her safety and those in uniforms did their jobs, and thank God the lady’s alive and recovering, and I don’t understand how your sarcasm’s directed at my mentioning of them being Egyptian. In other countries, many of them advanced developed countries, she may not have been so lucky, and unless she says herself that she would’ve preferred to die or didn’t want their help, don’t say it on her behalf.

I also never mentioned that the protests were magical or fun, nor did I mention that no one was hurt. People got lost, fainted and lost their belongings, and sometimes I was moving place to place without moving my legs from how crowded it was, but still organisers worked very hard and nonstop to keep it peaceful and root out any troublemakers, and the field hospital that was made was working like clockwork to aid anyone who was hurt. I also forgot to mention that the army personally escorted anyone who had trouble leaving, on some accounts until they were safe at home. Mobs are risky, that is a fact, but experts worldwide are commending how well this Egyptian mob specifically conducted itself. If you haven’t been there yourself, don’t sit at home behind your computer criticizing the protests assuming you know how bad it was. Finger-pointing from that location doesn’t make sense.

If criticisms are in order, criticize my writing, or anything related to me, not the collective effort of millions of civilians and their army in the context of tragedies that happened in the midst of the mob. I can’t speak on their behalf negatively if they’re not present to defend themselves, sonce I have no knowledge of their personal cirsumstances, and I think others will agree with me. What do you think?

210 Freedom4Egypt February 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

@casual: are you exercising your perspective? Take a look back, can you count how many people were hurt by that dictitorial regime during the past 30 years? You mentioned one person being hurt in the chaos, yet hundreds were gunned down BY the regime. One vs. 300 for freedom? Sounds like quite a deal, although I regret even ONE person being hurt. I (and many others) pray Lara Logan recovers as quickly and fully as possible. Take a look at the cost other countries paid for their freedom – it’s worlds apart. Egypt actually created freedom through one of the most bloodless revolutions in the history of mankind. That is perspective. Congratulations Egypt.

211 Yasser El-Hadari February 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Okay, my comment disappeared. I’ll type it again anyway.

@Casual: I never denied the incident. If it happened like it said in the article, it’s a disaster. Rape is worse than murder, period, and there’s no word to describe how much physical and emotional pain she’s in now. I just don’t want you to take it out of context: good people stepped in to save her. So what I can confirm is that despite the sea of people, civilians took responsibility for her safety and those in uniforms did their jobs, and now, thank God she’s recovering safely. No one can go into the past and fix the brains of the people who harmed her, but it should be put into perspective that people stepped up and stopped them. And I don’t understand your sarcasm at my mention of them being Egyptian. I don’t even think this subject warrants sarcasm.

I also never mentioned the protests being easy, magical or fun. Children got lost, people fainted, and belongings went missing. I myself was carried of my feet by the crowd and floated from place to place several times. However, I can only commend the organisers who worked nonstop to keep it peaceful and root out troublemakers; the field doctors who cared for those who wwere injured, and the Army who took away any troublemakers and escorted people who were having trouble leaving. Mobs are risky, that’s a fact, but experts worldwide are commending on how well this Egyptian mob was conducted. Therefore, I say again, unless you’ve been there in person, don’t sit behind your computer criticising and assuming you know how bad it was.

If criticisms are in order, criticise my writing, or my personal conduct. But I am in no position to speak negatively on those who aren’t present to defend themselves or didn’t give me permission to speak on their behalf in a negative light, and it wouldn’t be in the scope of the article or Art of Manliness to criticize the actions of a million people. Finger-pointing from that location wouldn’t be constructive. What do you think?

212 Yoni February 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm

It seems rather odd to me that Americans are pointing to what happened to Lara Logan as some failing of Egyptians. Fact is it could have happened in the US or Europe too. Every society has certain elements that do not measure up to being men. If Mr. El-Hadari is to be believed (and I see no reason not to) then that element was set loose amongst the population by the former regime.

I think perhaps some of the Americans on here are commenting out of fear. Fear that Egypt could turn into another Iran. While that still remains to be seen the fact is there isn’t much those of us outside can do at this point. What path Egypt takes is entirely up to her people and I pray God they choose a good path.

The article Mr. El-Hadari posted is still a very good one and I hope that many of you would see that experiences, good or ill, make us who we are. I don’t think this article should illicit political discussion but rather we should be discussing what experiences in our lives have affected us in such a way that we are better men for it.

213 Yoni February 16, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I wish I could edit my post. I meant “elicit” not “illicit”. English can be a confusing language.

214 Casual Reader February 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Yesser, your point was “A man respects the opposite sex”, and your response to my comments makes it clear that you hold this opinion firmly. Having only recently learned about Lara Logan’s assault, I reacted to the assertion that there was no harassment of women at the protest, when I should probably have focused on your underlying point. You seem to be a good man, and I’m not trying to attack you personally.

I guess my real point is that while what you posted here is a reflection of your own values, they are not shared by everyone. We need to be careful when we ascribe our own beliefs to everyone involved in a movement we believe in. I encourage you not to let you own (justifiable) pride in what you’ve accomplished blind you to the failings of the men and women who stand beside you. Don’t be so quick to assume that others are as moral or as just as you strive to be.

215 thomas February 17, 2011 at 3:49 am

it is not confirmed whether the people of Cairo are interested in a DEMOCRACY. youre tittle is far reaching and presupposes they want DEMOCRACY. i am american and its good business for america to tell us that – but how do we know? in fact, history tells us it is unlikely. i am scared as hell about the ripple effect of the happinings in Cairo – however, history also tells us the middle eastern country’s military will squash the resistance as the Middle East’s concept of human rights does not aline with ours, of course. so maybe itll all equal out… however to tell us what they want? lets be real people… cause really? do they even know what they want??? does anyone?

216 Wesley Dawson February 17, 2011 at 10:08 am

Wow. Powerfull article. I myself have friends in Egypt and he described a very similiar picture. Its sad how one sided media can be… but I am glad that the people of Egypt are finaly sending a message to the world that they wont settle for less anymore.

217 Junebug Actual February 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I just wanted to tell you that you are a MAN. You clearly identified why YOU were there, what YOUR motivation was, and the honorable nature of your intentions. I think any man worth his salt would have to agree you stood where few others have, and grew into someone well worth knowing. For what it is worth, I’m a former USMC infantry NCO so I feel confident stating you’ve got stones. I’m a Texan, and this is the 175th anniversary of Texas’ revolutionary fight for independence, so this type of activity has been on my mind well before y’alls fracas. I admire your grit, sir.

JBA

218 Yogi February 20, 2011 at 2:46 am

@thomas,

My dear sir, the people of Egypt MAY not know if they want democracy or anything else, what they AND everyone else in the world does know, is that they got rid of a despot, a stooge of everyone-knows-who and a puppet dictator IN A DEMOCRATIC WAY… A regime change couldn’t have been any more civil and democratic than what we’ve seen in Egypt.

@ Yasser, you and your fellow countrymen are the REAL men brother. You’ve set a brilliant and immortal example of a successful, non-violent political uprising, for the oppressed people of the countries being ruled and raped by dictators and puppets… Just be sure you know who you replace Mubarak with…

@CasualReader,

Look at your hand, no two fingers are equal. You can not bash the whole people for what a tiny faction did out there. Those people were most probably let loose by the pro-regime side to do what they successfully did (as seen from your perception of it all): mar the overall image of otherwise a very civil and unbelievably non-violent political movement.
On another note, ever heard the term ” Collateral Damage”? I’m sure you must be pretty familiar with it?? Hospitals being bombed because it was SUSPECTED there were some terrorists being treated? Children and women being gunned down out in the open because a trigger-happy joker FELT like it, and then that trigger-happy joker just getting a slap on the wrist?? Heck, whole countries being invaded on the basis of a THREAT conceived from intelligence that was shady and UNRELIABLE at best??? I’d like to go on and on but I hate to turn an amazing article into a place for politics…

219 An Admirer February 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Your devotion to freedom has brought tears to my eyes. Didn’t happen in years. I bow before you, people of Egypt.

220 survivor February 21, 2011 at 12:42 am

Google ” Egypt’s sexual harassment ‘cancer’” By Magdi Abdelhadi -BBC report for some accurate info on the state of women and sexual harassment in Egypt

221 TigerLily February 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I am from the U.S. The “Yasser” criticism is all too familiar. It comes from ignorance and/or denial. The U.S. is facing it’s own threats to freedom. Daily we lose more freedoms to the State. We have to give more and more of our money to the government. And totalitarian-like checkpoints are rising in every state under the guise of “safety.” Some U.S. citizens compare our freedoms to other countries and take a moral high ground. But the reality is that we, too, will soon have to face our own revolution.

Fantastic article about what it takes to be “A Man.”

222 Rebecca February 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Fantastic article. To hear the stories of everyday citizens of Egypt saying “Enough! We will be free!” And working together despite any differences towards that freedom through peaceful means is truly uplifting! Good luck to you and good luck and good fortune to Egypt!

223 Mike February 22, 2011 at 11:23 am

Dear Mr El Hadari,

Thank you very much for your inspiring words. You and your fellow Egyptians who stood up for your rights are models of humanity in an often inhumane world. I was especially touched by your description of the interaction between Christians and Muslims and their actions to protect each other during their respective days of worship. If these actions and feelings of fellowship could spread throughout the rest of the world, the world would be a better place.

Please do not be hurt by the negative commentators here and elsewhere, most of us understand that every group has its share of bad apples. While it is very unfortunate what happened to Lara Logan, in no way should that reflect upon what was overall a shining example of a mostly peaceful but firmly stated modern day revolution.

224 Douglas February 23, 2011 at 4:34 am

Mr. El Hadari,

First of all, congratulations on taking your country back. We (Americans) went through that around 250 years ago and we *still* regard the courageous men and women of our revolution as heroes. May the unwritten future of Egypt regard you and your countrymen with similar regard.

But what impressed me the most about your article is how, in the face of adversity and genuine human fear, you refused to compromise your virtue. That is the true test of a man and not only have you passed, you have set an example for others to follow.

I am raising two children and I constantly impress upon them that honor, character and integrity are defined by how you act in two circumstances: 1) when no one is looking (i.e., when you can get away with it); and 2) when you are afraid.

The trials of War bring out either the very best or the very worst human nature has to offer. If the day comes that I am similarly tested, I will remember this article and it will give me strength.

Good luck and may the God of many names bless your country as he has blessed ours.

225 Donn February 24, 2011 at 5:11 am

@Casual Reader: Actually, she wasn’t raped, look it up. Or rather I’ll post it here before you spread more misinformation.

http://www.torontosun.com/news/columnists/peter_worthington/2011/02/18/17331046.html

226 Michael Jael February 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Maybe its just me but the whole revolution thing seems a bit impulsive. I’m not one to be impressed by intent but by cold calculating logic. This honorable and uplifting rebellion seems to have no plan, no strategy.

Stripped down to its very core, its just a gamble. A gamble, pure and simple. To me it just seems stupid. Please enlighten me why it had to come to this? Were there no better solutions? Was there planning? Was there Strategising? What happens now? Is there no fail-safe?

The chances of getting better leadership are slim to none so what makes this revolution have potential?

227 Camayo February 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I was so impressed by this blog post that I did something I rarely do – I shared it on Facebook and Twitter and have shared the link via personal email many times.

I think the people here should remember that this is an article about character and how one’s character is shaped and even changed over time. The surprising revolution in Egypt (which I watched closely with amazement, hope, fear, and relief) is simply the context in which Mr. Hadari wraps his personal journey and perspective. And frankly, for the most part, his ideas on “manliness” can be easily applied to “Lessons on Human-ness” without respect to gender.

As someone who has experienced first-hand the tragedies of civil war, violent political unrest, assassinations of public officials, and more – I can tell you that from my perspective, what I saw happening in Egypt could have gone either way at any time; and i think it is a testament to the intent of the protest organizers and the commitment of the people of Egypt that, comparatively speaking, it was a peaceful evolution. Who knows what the future may bring, but I suspect that, in the light of current events in the region, the people of Egypt will forever be proud of their moment in the extreme spotlight of history.

For anyone to trivialize the concepts that Mr. Hadari is laying out in this article or to inject political rhetoric is really small-minded and missing the mark. As the mother of an incredible 21 yr old man, I can tell you that each and every point Mr. Hadari makes is one that I have tried to instill in my own son – only not quite as eloquently, i fear. So please do not let political opinion cloud the substance of what he is saying. We can all learn from this.

Good job, Mr. Hadari. And much respect to you.

And God bless Egypt.

228 Jon W. March 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I really enjoyed this post. The religions working together made me especially happy. Than I saw this today, do you have any thoughts on this? http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/egypt/69546/
Is this just an aberration?

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