Friday, August 16, 2013

some state of things

Last night I talked to Jon on the phone for the second night in a row. Jon is a dear soul & friend I've known since high school. He's about a month in at his AP post in Cairo, Egypt. Before that he worked in Nigeria for about 4 years.

When we talk on the phone, sometimes he pauses to check out the sounds of gunfire or to comment on the sight of a person in the street after curfew. When he talks to me he is relatively calm. He tells me about some day to day things in Cairo. You can have groceries and other services delivered to you. There are stray cats. Just about everyone smokes. A lot of the bars are strange.

Currently, it is also a place of chaos. In summation, from the live Egypt blog on Aljazeera:

Mohamed Morsi became Egypt's first democratically elected president on June 30 last year, but 12 months later, millions of Egyptians were back on the streets to protest against his rule. The army stepped in and deposed Morsi on July 3, appointed an interim president and outlined plans for a new constitution and elections. However, Morsi's supporters stayed in the streets for more than a month protesting against his removal. Security forces finally moved against their Cairo sit-ins on August 14, with deadly results.

Today is being called a "day of rage." Again from the live blog:

Crowds supporting the return of deposed president Mohamed Morsi have filled streets on Friday in areas including Nasr City in Cairo, and the port city of Alexandria, as the Muslim Brotherhood called for a "Day of Rage" days after hundreds of protesters were killed as police cleared sit-ins two days earlier.

The Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque has become a makeshift morgue for all of the bodies injured in the current clashes.



From Aljazeera:

Wrapped in shrouds and kept cool with blocks of ice, most of the bodies bore gunshot wounds, but a number were charred, making them hard to identify for family members....Many of those at the sit-in wrote their names on their hands at the time of the attack so that their bodies could be identified. Their names were listed on cardboard signs at the end of each row, where they lay waiting to be buried.

Sigh. I could keep posting quotes. Pictures. Death tallies.

Due to the time difference, a lot of the violence/action kicks off when I am still asleep, or just waking up. As soon as my alarm goes off I've developed a habit of checking the news first thing. I read my friend's updates via AP, as well as Aljazeera. And every morning this week I've been stunned and gutted by the amount of violence that continues there.

There is nothing to be done here in Pittsburgh. Nothing except that thing where I try to push my heart outside its chest as far as it will go. All my thoughts and hopes and love...I throw it to the wind and hope it makes it. I don't know what else to do but worry. A few times I have gone to the bathroom at work to shed tears out of frustration and worry. Obviously for my dear friend. But mainly for all of Egypt--shit--all of the WORLD in general. Sometimes I am so confused by this being human business.

I've had the privilege of living in the United States for my entire life--I can only wrap my head around this sort of urgency and movement so much before it is lost on me. I educate myself as much as I can but I can't imagine having to go to the streets to fight for basic freedom/justice. I have no personal reference for that. I have the privilege of not only having a job, but I can get to said job without witnessing bombs or clouds of tear gas in my way. We have it so good here--too good--so few of us recognize that. We get caught up in paying bills or complaining about coworkers/traffic/gossip/gas prices/paper jams/tv shows. It's all so stupid. Our stupid privilege to complain, to not have to see outside of our own shit because it's all-consuming.

I am full of worry today. Full of worry and the realization that I cannot protect anyone really. Ever. That this is the world and this is life and it's brutal and confusing. I don't mean for this post to be a downer, but I don't really work with anyone who cares enough to have this conversation, and it's already in all caps in my journal, and I already talk with Jon about it. I don't know what else to do. The world frightens me. I know I'm not supposed to let it, but it does. I don't know what else to say. I want peace. I want it for Egypt. I want it for everyone.

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