Civil Disobedience

The mushrooming crisis in Egypt is hypnotizing the world right now. I never felt that connected to Egypt before, it was a land of far away and of mystery. I’ve even traveled to several countries in Northern Africa, but never to Egypt. So how can this eruption feel as if my own belly is exploding I wonder?

From the standpoint of the people it seems so obvious. Go away! We don’t want you anymore. We are the majority, you are not, why should you rule over us?

Yet this is like looking in a mirror. The autocratic dictators in individual psyches and organisms of people run unconsciously seemingly forever, like Mumbarak’s government. When a wake up occurs, is it easily overthrown? Twelve-step programs and therapy models proliferate on every subject. The change of psychic as well as social order is profoundly difficult and often deadly.

What can I do for Egypt? “Be the change you want to see in the world,”  says Gandhi. Work with my own inner dictators, create a fierce but peaceful revolution, work on the same with my friends, clients, loved ones, and wherever I can, hoping that the ripples in the water of psychological life will go out and intersect with the circles of the world.

I am tempted to feel powerless as I watch this suffering and blood bath. But I do believe the individual is powerful beyond imagining. As Laurens Van der Post said in his book The Dark Eye in Africa:

“It is, for me, no idle coincidence that the most significant discovery in the physical world of this age has been the fact that the greatest and most unimaginable power resides in the smallest possible organization of matter. The force which threatens to blow the world asunder resides not in the clouds or mountains but in the invisible heart of the atom. The inner force, too, which, like the power of the atom, can either remake or shatter civilization resides in the smallest unit of society, the individual. The individual is the secret advance base from which this power sets out to invade committee rooms, mothers meetings, county councils, parliaments, continents and nations.”

We don’t have to sit hypnotized and watch. We begin in ourselves and work vigorously from there.

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