We are witnessing unfold in Egypt an expression of the inner reality of the human being in our time. No longer does the human being of today wish to subjugate themselves to the rulership of another. No longer do we seek for Pharaohs, kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers etc. who stand in for our own highest potential. No – today, we ourselves are the kings and queens we are looking for – the new Pharaohs of Egypt and the world.
What we are watching every day unfold in Cairo’s Tahrir Square – Freedom / Liberation Square – is the human being of today battling for their own humanity. In striving for freedom, these individuals are striving to throw off all of the old chains of the past – all of that which in reality belongs to earlier times.
The Pharaoh of old was considered an incarnate divine being – a God in human form. From out of his mouth flowed the whole cultural and spiritual impulse for the greater society. The Pharaoh stood as the highest potential for the whole of the society – people looked to him in order to understand their own becoming, their own development.
In a way, this was appropriate for the civilization of Egypt and the world at that time. One felt one’s-self as part of a community. The sense of community ran through the veins and arteries of people of that time like blood. The community was one organism with a shared blood flowing through it. One could say that the Pharaoh was the ‘head’ of such an organism, such a community.
Since that time, the reality of the situation has changed, however. After the fall of the Egyptian civilization into decadence – as all civilizations eventually do – the individual human being began more and more to stand on their own two feet – and to think with their own ‘head.’ In time, the human being gradually began to grow more into an individuality – a community of one.
The social forms did not necessarily follow this reality, however. From the Caesars of Rome to the Pope of the Catholic Church; from the kings and queens of monarchies to the presidents and prime-ministers of nation states – in all of the social forms these rulers expressed we see something of an out-of-time Pharaoh-ism. The social structure does not take into account the reality that the human being no longer needs another ‘head’ to think for them – we are quite capable of doing it ourselves.
What we are seeing all around the world at present, and especially in Egypt in recent weeks, is the further articulation of the individual human being. Over the centuries, this individual human being has come more and more into their own, especially since the scientific revolution in which the world began to be studied and known as something truly separate from ourselves. During this revolution – the scientific revolution – our individual intellects truly began to blossom. We grew more fully our own ‘heads.’
From this period right up until our own time we have witnessed the human being gradually develop the capacities to do that which the Pharaoh had done for the community as a whole all those centuries ago. Each and every human being has gradually become the point at which cultural and intellectual/spiritual impulses can flow into society as a whole. Each human being, in reality, has become a free entry point for impulses which can transform the world. Each human being is, in reality, a modern Pharaoh, and is charged with tasks similar to these earlier God-kings.
The people of Egypt – the place in which such Pharaoh-ism originated – are showing us that now is the time for us to rise to the tasks of today. They are reminding us that no longer do we need to sacrifice our own freedom by elevating another into the position which we ourselves should rightly occupy. The thrones are ours.
The question arises, however, as to how we are each to exist in a world where each one of us is, in truth, a king, a queen, a Pharaoh. How do we in fact live in a healthy community when we have each become so individual? We can see that, for a large part, the western world has been so far unable to provide a satisfactory answer to this question.
If we observe more closely what is happening in Egypt, we can perhaps find part of a beginning-answer to this question. The Egyptian people have lived for three decades under a ruler who has amassed more wealth than the country as a whole. There has been no political equality, no cultural or spiritual freedom. In reality he has elevated himself, like so many other rulers since the time of the Pharaohs, at the expense of others. He has lifted himself up to the heights by keeping others firmly pressed to the ground.
What is being asked of us today, out of the reality of the situation at hand, is something quite different. We are being asked for a new kind of rulership. We are being asked for the kind of rulership whereby we do not elevate ourselves by forcing others down, but where we allow a space for others to become the kings and queens and Pharaohs that they are destined to become; that we make a space in ourselves for the Pharaoh – for the highest potential – in the other human being.
Interestingly, if we turn to Tahrir Square – to Freedom Square – at the moment, we do not see a revolution in which one major political or other organization is overthrowing another. We do not see a single opposition leader rallying others behind him or her. We do not see the military overthrowing a ruler. We do not see human beings handing their freedom over to another human being (or even an organization) who will simply replace the human being who previously ruled over them.
What we are seeing is a revolution of hundreds of thousands of human beings from all walks of life calling first and foremost for the removal of the self-installed Pharaoh who has ruled by keeping others down. We are seeing individuals and organizations – largely civil society organizations – working together by holding one another up – by raising one another into their rightful place as free human beings.
We are seeing Freedom Square organized in such a way that individual human beings are able to live together in community while striving to attain their own, and one another’s, freedom. If we are attentive, we can see that the revolution is actually practicing, in part, the kind of new society it is itself asking for.
In the medieval story of Parzival, it is only when the knight is able to recognise the suffering of another king and ask him the all-redeeming question ‘What ails thee?’ that he is able to take up his own position as king of the grail castle. What we are seeing unfold in Freedom Square is a Parzival kingship of individuals supporting one another to become what they are destined to become. They have made a space for one another’s suffering and seek to help one another to take up their thrones. They are a practicing example of individuals living together with one another in community. Their hard-won individuality is not lost in this process – rather, by helping one another, it is strengthened, as is the community.
Food and water are extremely well organized, as are medical supplies and security. Communications and media are grasped hold of in the best possible way considering the situation. There are songs and dancing. People have come from all around the country. Families are gathered. They seem to live as individuals within a common star: their own and one another’s freedom, together with the freedom of their country. They are thereby reminding the rest of us around the world of our own responsibilities and tasks.
The question must arise at this point, however, as to how to enable that which lives in the heart of so many Egyptians right now, and within the heart of Cairo – in Freedom Square – how can this same quality of individual freedom in community exist on the level of the country as a whole?
We see already the seed-answer for this in the activity taking place in Freedom Square. We see individuals from many different organizations and spheres of social life working together. We see civil society organizations representing cultural and spiritual life. We see political organizations representing political life. And we see businesses and business owners representing economic life. These three areas are all currently thrown together in the revolutionary melting pot at the centre of the Freedom Square of Egypt as a whole.
It is obvious enough to anyone with eyes to see that the situation is not asking for the same system to continue simply with a change of ‘heads.’ As much as many western and other ruling ‘heads’ may want this, that which is living in Freedom Square does not. If this does happen – if the Vice President, or any other individual is installed as a new ‘head’ for the social organism – we will see the same scenes repeated again and again in the years ahead. (And surely the situation in America is proof enough that no matter how ideal an individual ‘head’ may seem to be, the structure of existing national social forms does not allow for the full unfolding of the free human being of today.)
If, however, that which is taking place in this point of liberation is understood in the right way, then we can see that the human being of today is asking for social forms that are in line with the reality of who it has become. The human being of today demands freedom – it demands to be able to do as it likes with respect to all cultural and spiritual life. At the same time, it demands equality in all activities related to political and legal life – we seek equality before the law, and we each want our voice heard in the formation of such laws. And finally, the human being of today seeks to work together with other human beings – that is, to work in economic association. The reality of the human being today demands this, as do all human beings who currently sit in any Freedom Square around the world.
In the same way that each human being’s individuality must be upheld in a community in order that people can work together freely, so too on the national level must such autonomous interdependence hold sway. Each human being is autonomous, yet we rely on each other. It is the same with the systems of our physical body: our nerve-sense system, our heart-lung system, our metabolic-limb system – here too each system is in reality separate and yet depends on one another for healthy life.
So too is this autonomous interdependence currently being expressed in Freedom Square. A free cultural/spiritual realm, an equality-imbued political realm and a co-operative economic realm are all equally dependent on one another. On the other hand, they are, in reality, all separate from one another. Three realms of social life distinct from one another and yet working together. Here we see already a way in which we can move from government by government alone to a new governance based on the reality of the human being today.
Civil society representing a free cultural realm, government representing an equal political/legal realm, and business representing an associative economic life where each realm is autonomous yet interdependent. Three autonomous yet interdependent realms of social life coming together at the decision making tables of the world, fully respecting one another’s role and part in the health of society as a whole. From government by government alone to a new tri-polar societal governance.
This is obviously no abstract program, but that which is already clearly expressing itself out of the social and human needs of the world today, as we can see through all that is currently taking place in Egypt.
We are no longer the slaves of Pharaoh or of any other leader. We are each now Pharaohs, and we need social forms that allow this to be expressed. Anything else is a form of structural violence – violence against the developing human being. The people of Freedom Square in Egypt and in many other Freedom Squares around the world are expressing this need out of the reality of our times. May we have the strength to support one another in the fashioning of kingdoms worthy of each of us as human beings – as the Pharaohs we are and must continue to become.
Published February 11 on commondreams.org, informationclearinghouse.info, dprogram.net
Thank you John, once again, for your insightful and true poetry. This message is heart felt.