It's way too early to say whether the people-power overthrow of Hosni Mubarak was a good thing or a bad thing.
Should we celebrate the end of autocratic, kleptocratic rule?
Should we fear the rise of Islamic fascist fundamentalism at Israel's doorstep?
Should we hope for the best, and maybe betterment of relations within the middle East?
Should we pray for a truly secular Arab state?
I have some serious mixed feelings about these events that are unfolding throughout the Arab/Islamic world. On one hand, people in general have had it with the type of kleptocratic, oligarchical rule that benefits only those who hold the whip and makes everyone else equal under misery.
On the other hand, the very same people who oppose fascist oppression never studied the intricacies of Western Secularism that drive the (relatively) more prosperous democracies throughout the world. If someone were to spend a good balance of his life under regimentation, only to wind up thrust into a situation that he would have to think, live and work for himself, would he adapt?
And if he were to adapt to a world of free thought and free will, how long would it take for this person to master his life? Would he prosper? Would he relapse?
As an addict, if you were to deprive me of something on which I base my dependency, I would definitely be upset. You may have freed me of something that was destroying me but then how would I now justify my existence, my reason for being in this world and living this life? I could adapt to my new surroundings and get in touch with things that I have missed while I was using. I could find new interests and redefine my purpose in life.
Or I could find a new drug. I would not want to call it a relapse: I would prefer to call it a refocusing. The drug would probably be more dangerous than the one that you took away, but at least I would know that I could regain the sense or at least intense illusion of power, gratification, release and control through my usage. Many people would be disappointed or hurt by my relapse, but I would be more damned if anyone were to interfere with my comfort zone.
The reality is that there is no such thing as pure freedom. Due to the imperfections and randomness that exist in nature, we have to discipline ourselves in order to survive. There will always be a need to put a roof over my head and food on the table, therefore I have to work to pay for it. My freedom includes the right to go to work, get paid for my troubles, then go to the office to pay my rent and utilities. Hopefully I could have some cash left over so I could buy that leg of lamb that I've been craving for weeks. And definitely I wouldn't mind a week or two of vacation to decompress, recharge and regroup.
It was very hard to let go of the vices that landed me in destitution. I could've had a larger house. I could've worked at a better place for more money so I could afford the 100 Mb/s internet and that 52" HDTV so when I go and start playing Call of Duty: Special Ops I would revel in such awesome pwnage! But at least I am still above ground. And I'm always looking forward.
It was because of my vices that I got released from the military. I did my job well but my focus was messed up beyond belief. I had a tough time getting along with people because my mind was locked into getting the next high, drunk or orgasm. And then I realised that most of my life had been plagued by instant gratification, and I was enjoying and hating every minute of it.
Being under a dictatorship is almost like going through an addiction. Once you have a taste of it, you'll learn to despise it first, then tolerate it and eventually make it part of your being. Eventually, when you get freed from it, you have to figure out what to do next and take advantage of the lack of regimentation to which you were accustomed.
At this moment. the Egyptians are at this "now what" stage, the level at which addicts like me experience when the drug-of-choice would finally wear off with a slightly foul aftertaste, followed by a stark epiphany, looking around the wreckage of past misdeeds, abused relationships, lies and deceptions and the pain in its wake, then looking forward to a big blank void which represents freedom - one which limitless, and bottomless. Some people would make that big leap of faith while others hardened by experiences would stand at the ledge, forever debating and wondering if freedom is worth giving up that sweet vile hell that was the comfort zone.
I confess: I may have ditched the drugs, the drink and the debauchery, but the taste is still there. The newly "freed" Tunisians and Egyptians still yet have to experience withdrawal. And together at the edge we look into the bright shiny abyss.