February 5, 2011 8:38:00 PM
When I was a very young child I was fascinated by anything Egyptian. My cats were named Anthony, Cleopatra and Nefertiti. I thought Egyptians wore lots of dark eye liner and walked in a strange twisted way, with their hands held in an uncomfortable, stiff pose.
Many years later, the "Treasures of Tutankhamen" visited New Orleans for a six-month stay. I took a class in Egyptology and volunteered as a docent for the show. The interest was phenomenal, with incredibly long lines every day. However, as a docent, I was able to go into the galleries without standing in line and without buying a ticket. I went through that exhibit about once a week for the entire six months.
I haven''t thought much about Egypt in a very long time. I suppose I still pictured it as a place of archeological digs and pre-Christian culture. Now, thanks to streaming news videos and the Internet, we have been fast-forwarded to a modern country in an extremely contemporary crisis.
The first few days were something that would have made Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King proud. People of all ages and classes moved peacefully, shoulder to shoulder, to protest the presidency of Hosni Mubarak.
But, then, things turned violent. The film we now see is of riots and bloody faces, injuries and death. Certainly, they have much to complain about: poverty, great inequality in standards of living, a government that they feel does not represent the people. (Sounds familiar, doesn''t it?)
President Mubarak is in his 80''s and has run Egypt for 30 years. There are rumors of his ill health. Yet, he has made only an inadequate offer to step down in September.
I understand the intoxication of power. It is difficult to give up. However, the people have spoken. Retire, already.
Even in a much smaller world, like The Golden Triangle, I see so many people who really should retire. Whether in business or behind the wheel of a car, there comes a time to cease what you are doing.
Finances may force a lot of us to work longer than we wish. I''m not talking about that. I''m talking about working until the banshees are howling at your door, even when funds are not an obstacle.
It may be time to move over and make a place for some of the unemployed. Whatever happened to the "Golden Years?" Once upon a time "seniors" traveled, played golf, took up hobbies, like painting or bird watching. Now they move directly from the desk to the coffin. It shouldn''t take an unruly mob to grab our attention.
The revolution in Egypt is terrifying to watch, even from safely across the globe. But, it is hard not to admire people so passionate that they will risk everything for their beliefs. Many of their grievances are much like ours. These days it''s hard to imagine Americans rising en masse to protest injustice.
Witnessing this spectacle unfold on a world stage has been fascinating and sobering. It does not appear to be soon over. But, the drama has brought attention to Egypt and her people. They are more real to me now, part of the present world. I will never again think of them as an ancient, elegant culture, worshiping cats.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at email@example.com.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.