The news is full of the rioting in Egypt. As always Nicholas Kristoff, a NYTimes columnist, is paying attention to ordinary people. Today he writes of watching pro- and anti-government mobs facing off in the main square of Cairo, blood, nasty weapons, like straight razor, shouting all around. Kristoff tells of seeing two women, sisters, walk into the square. The angry mob on the anti-government side made a little space for them to advance toward the pro-government mob. No one touched them, shouting continued all around but the women walked together to the very middle of the square where they faced the pro-government mob. They seemed very ordinary, rather timid, very plain. They came face to face with some of the pro-government mob and stopped to talk in ordinary voices to some of the angry men who listened and did not touch them. After a while the pro-government mob moved away from the women who walked out of the square, apparently, thought Kristoff, the rioters wanted to hold onto their anger and to continue the violence against those on the other side.
Kristoff approached them, asked their names, and asked what they had said. They said they simply explained that the country needs democracy now, that it's been undemocratic much too long and people have suffered greatly. They said what they came to say, they were heard even if their words seemed to have no impact.
This scene is worthy of contemplation. A time comes when reason is not enough, a time comes when riled passions and the expression of anger is too overwhelming to be damped by rationality. At least the time has not come when calm can't happen, however briefly in however a small puddle in the ocean irrationally hyped angers. I'm grateful to Kristoff for writing about this tiny scene instead of using his pulpit for descriptions of slashings and beating and the insanity of pent up emotions once they have been unbottled.
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