Selmyah! Selmyah! A semantic revolution

'Year 2011 seems too old and wise to experience a 'revolution': a lexical that takes our imagination back to last century, if not earlier'. 

by Lamis Shejni

So many words have been used (not as much as those that will be once all events have unfolded) to describe, define, deconstruct and reinvent the Egyptian 25th January Revolution. 2011 seems too old and wise to experience a 'revolution': a lexical that takes our imagination back to last century, if not earlier. Personally, it stimulates the visualization of Karl Marx's white beard, maybe because it is so similar to Ayatollah Khomeini, and the 1979 Iranian revolution: the first memories of my existence!

And here I am experiencing another that no one saw coming again! The two have been compared, and the makers of the oldest claimed ownership of the latter but nothing could be less true. (It makes you wonder which reality those TV and Newspapers political analysts come from). There were some beards alright, but these beards contrary to previous ones were marching and sitting in for - in their own words: horryah, dimoqratyah, adalah egtemaíyah i.e. freedom, democracy, social justice.

The beards (with all due respect) along with feminists, doctors, lawyers, unemployed, ICTs savvies, street food vendors, housewives, kids, even ex military, and many others in the forefront, that generation that had never experienced a revolution in its life time, the so called youth, armed with the wisdom of 2011 and empowered by their Tunisian brothers' and sisters' lessons decided to repossess their own country and their own destiny.

The Bouazizi Revolution, mother of the Egyptian revolution, inspired the claims of Tahrir square, and now it is a song flying from one Arab state to another, where each population is adding to it, its personal lyrics to compose a new reality in their region, paving the path for their future, defying the strategic plans of the empire and oligarchic realist think-tanks.

What distinguishes the Egyptian revolution is the culture with which, unconsciously, it has enriched the human history of revolutions and struggle for justice. Not only it was a white revolution refuting the use of violence but it was a festival, a celebration of life in freedom. From visual arts exhibitions, to music composing, to poetic rhetoric, to Coptic mass, to Moslem prayers, to rock'n roll, to performing arts, to sharing food, to the national anthem but above all, in that iconic square, the body of people sang unanimously from beginning to end, even after facing slaughter: Selmyah! Selmyah! Peacefully! Peacefully! And peacefully they changed their world and swept the wind of change much further to that of all of us.

International relations will never be the same, another Berlin wall? Certainly.

Human rights organizations have now gained greater bargaining power, in perusing and reproving governments that support and arm world dictators which suppress, torture and kill their own people in the name of 'stability and security' that hide the lemmas of self-interest and ethnocentrism.

Having a pluralistic peaceful world is not idealism brushed off by realism; it's a de facto that the world is walking to, sometimes led by rationality and others through maturity gained post-regression. There is no other path, and the sooner the world puppeteers learn that the shorter and more pleasant the evolution will be, if not more revolutions, and popular protests will come along. The model is there to stay. They should allow their conscious to be purified by those revolutionaries who were the first revolutionaries in history to clean the streets after themselves. Peace is not simply the absence of violence, it's a method of life and of relating with yourself and the world. Itís more than democracy and human rights. Itís the core of a sustainable existence. The cleaning was an anthropological ritual after the battle and the victorious festivity. It was a need to be one with the soil beneath their feet and all that is above it, even the sky. That is their conquered fruit. That is the drive that will protect their revolution from its enemies, as long as they don't forget what they gained, as they continue the struggle between virtual physical and dark realities.

Good luck! To us all!

Lamis Shejni - - is author and sustainable peace and development professional, concerned with Arab and global affairs for over two decades.