Seeking a Shore, David Smith-Ferri

from    voices for creative nonviolence

Seeking a Shore

Seeking a Shore

February, 2011

After Hosni Mubarak resigned


In 2004, in the days after the tsunami spread its wide, heavy body
over Indonesia and Thailand and Sri Lanka and India,
crushing homes, hospitals, schools,
videos of the wave were posted online and shared electronically.
Accustomed to viewing explosions, raging waters, hurricane winds,
some people who watched
from the dry comfort of their homes or offices were disappointed.
The wave didn’t impress.
They would have been even more disappointed
had they followed the wave
as it moved through deep ocean waters,
only the crown of its head visible.
People failed to recognize its unity and dimensions,
how it had leapt from the sea floor,
gathered itself from so many individual particles of water,
and traveled hundreds of miles
remaining intact,
how its legs extended deep into the ocean.


In Egypt, people have risen in a wave

and swamped the US-backed government of Hosni Mubarak,
forcing the resignation of the dictator-president.
A wave of humanity.
A wave of human longing.
Major media outlets are calling it the 18-Day Revolution,
but it was decades in coming,
decades of resistance,
decades of people taking risks,
forming civil society groups,
speaking truth to their children
and nieces and nephews and neighbors,
decades of holding together.

And as tents were erected in Tahrir Square,
and we watched on Al-Jazeera and CNN and MSNBC and online,
we began to see how tall the wave is
and how long its legs are.

I come from three generations who have been fighting for social reform and fiscal freedoms in this country, Khalid Abdalla said.

We watched as Hosni Mubarak tried to protect himself
by firing and replacing government ministers,
by bringing in a Vice-President,
how Mubarak laid down sand bags
trying to prevent the waters from reaching him,
only to see the wave come ashore outside the Parliament building.
And it was too late to outrun it,
too late to seek high ground.

We watched in horror as Mubarak
tried to frighten people, to fracture and disrupt the wave.
As Egyptian police fired rubber bullets and tear gas,
and turned water hoses on the protesters.
As pro-government groups, on horses and camels,
armed with sticks and rocks, and some, yes, some with guns,
charged Tahrir Square.
And three hundred people were killed.
And when the need for unity was greatest,
the wave held.


Across the region,
in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen…
across the globe, wherever the tectonic plate of government oppression
pushes against the rights of its citizens,
a shift occurs in people’s hearts
and the same wave of longing leaps up to ride out on seas
seeking a shore.

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