Like many Americans, I have been watching the crisis in Egypt play out closely. It is worrisome to think about how the uprising in Egypt could literally change the course of the world. Each day more violence seems to bubbling up with more people hurt, jailed or even killed.
I am a child of a military family – my Dad, Grandfather, uncles, aunts and brother all have served our country. I have lived all over the world, went to high school in Japan, watched my Dad go off for “war games” (a term for practice in the military) in Korea.
I was the child who sat glued to the television during the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979 and wore a white band around my little arm to show solidarity until the hostages were freed on January 20, 1981. I am the girl who organized a letter writing campaign in Cincinnati, Ohio to the Marines in Beirut in 1983. (Which subsequently was my first foray into PR as I was asked to be on the syndicated Bob Braun Show for my efforts…)
I’m the girl who knew about the stealth bomber before most of the American public. I am the girl who gets misty when our National Anthem is played, the girl who knows how lucky she is to be an American.
Since a young age I have watched international conflict closely.
Maybe it was because as a little girl I was terrified my Dad would be taken off to war, and later watched my brother and all my military friends go to war. I’ve watched them come back changed people, stronger people, more cautious people. Such incredibly brave people. I’ve seen the effects of war without ever having to leave the comfort of my living room.
Which is where I sat watching the Twin Towers crumble to the ground on September 11, 2001. The only act of war I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime on American soil. A day that will be etched forever in my memory.
Recently I found a little red diary I started keeping as soon as I was able to write. The longest diary entry I found? The day President Ronald Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981. I was a little girl so scared for our President, so terrified he would die. I knew my little world had changed on that day.
And now, as an adult and a mother myself – I sit glued to the news once more. Except now – now the news is coming to me via the Internet. A luxury the Egyptian people don’t have anymore.
I am watching reporters, who are increasingly putting their lives at risk to bring us the story as it unfolds in Egypt, post their messages of survival on Twitter, post their video blogs from the front lines as they (and their crew) are attacked, watch as a government collapses before our eyes all in real time via my computer.
In 2011 I don’t have to wait until the nightly news to see what has happened. The days of waiting for Tom Brokaw to report what happened throughout the day in a far-away land are long gone. Today I can watch it in real time. On Twitter. On YouTube. On the Internet which I am so fortunate to have at my fingertips.
Yesterday there were several reports over Twitter that Mubarak’s police arrested “Sandmonkey”, a prominent Egyptian blogger and critic of the regime. Just yesterday, he spoke to Pajamas Media TV about evading police officials who were apparently looking for him. (Later, Sandmonkey tweeted: I am ok. I got out. I was ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated , my car ripped & supplies taken #jan25).
Yes, indeed, the Internet and social media have changed the way we view international conflict.
No one can predict what might happen in Egypt – who is often called our biggest American ally in the Middle East, although less so these days – but it doesn’t look good.
When polled recently, 59% of Egyptians said they backed the Islamists and only 27% favored modernizers. The situation could not be more dangerous and might be the biggest disaster for the region and Western interests since the Iranian revolution three decades ago.
And me? This girl, so fortunate to have been born in a land of freedom and democracy, will sit here watching it all unfold before my eyes – except this time glued to my computer and my smart phone, hoping for the best.