Sean Tierney ’05 writes about the democratic climate in Cairo

Sean Tierney ’05 spent his Christmas Break with Fr. William Fulco, S.J., PhD, head of the Archeology department at Loyola Marymount University, exploring the political, moral, and theological aspects of the Revolution in Egypt.  He reflects on his time in Cairo.

The energy in Cairo is palpable.  The traffic is constant and chaotic: Outside my window is an ever-present cacophony of car horns, near crashes, and pedestrian dodging.  There is a wide menu of smells available at any moment, ranging from putrid to flowery.  Cats are everywhere and believe that they run the place.  The people here appear to be quite happy — smiles are abundant and cordiality has been extended at every turn.   Our hosts — the Jesuit primary/high school in Cairo — have been gracious and warm.  Meals are cooked for us and I inhabit a room that looks out onto central Cairo and is yards away from a gorgeous balcony overlooking the same. Our goal was to stand in solidarity with Egypt’s beautiful people; this has proven to be a perfect venue. 

After two days in downtown Cairo — spent mostly speaking with people from Tahrir Square — we left for Giza, home of the Egyptian pyramids.  World History textbooks left me rather unprepared.  Sublime in both their design and temporal permanence, I was blown away from the minute we arrived.  Camels pace and vendors hassle, but there is one boss in this place; the pyramids dominate the scene.  I could do my best to describe what they look like and how they make you feel, but I’m not that talented. They’re really cool. It’s something you’ve just got to see. 

What I can tell you about was the conversation I had that day.  The Pyramids provided a beautiful entrée into a discussion of the significance of Revolution.  Gaze up at the tip of the pyramid and you think about how long these things have been around. Turn 180 degrees and you see a movement which threatens the way of life that these structures memorialize.  Our tour guide, whose trust we earned after making sure we didn’t interrupt his smoke breaks, was both willing and able to talk about his experience in the Revolution.  As a Mubarak supporter, his perspective was unique to our experience in Tahrir Square where we spoke with (and sympathized with) pro-Revolutionaries. Our tour guide’s take was quite different.

He explained that the Revolution has been an unwelcome disruption.  Stability that existed for centuries is no longer there. It has had a devastating effect on tourism here and the chain-reaction has affected many people’s everyday life (and may explain why the Muslim Brotherhood has had election success — people think they are the only ones capable of fixing the economy). Simply, the Revolution here has taken food out of people’s mouths and disrupted a lifestyle the Egyptians have enjoyed since the Pharaonic times.

On the other hand, it’s also easy to be swept up by the revolutionary spirit here.  Tahrir has a magnetic pull.  In fact, yesterday, I sat with a young activist for an hour or so.   She’s an activist for women’s rights (certainly, a challenge here) and a revolutionary at heart.   Her goals are noble, her means just, and her vision clear.  She spoke brilliantly of Egypt’s history, its current concerns and the possibilities of its future. Optimism abounds and she’s a very proud Egyptian. Egypt, she explained, was both ready and able to transition into a democracy.  I sat there wanting her to succeed. 

Certainly, there is a tension between these two conversations, a tension that has been confirmed by my nightly walks through downtown Cairo. Just after the evening prayers finish, the alleyways fill with smiling, happy people. The men bring out plastic chairs, smoke sheesha and chat; women attempt to corral both their husbands and their offspring; and, the children’s eyes dilate trying to take it all in.  Vendors’ calloused hands pull corn-on-the-cob off fires that they fan with pigeon feathers. Women in the niqab (the full veil) slide ice cream cones under their headscarves to get a taste of the sweet life.  Children clutch to their fathers as they dodge cars and appear to be playing a game of real-life "frogger" in the streets.  Neighbors meet and swap stories.  Each night is a communal activity.  Talk to them and you quickly realize that this experience is their national treasure.  And, many of them wonder (out loud) if the Revolution might threaten this stability.  

Post Revolution, the calculation that many are making is whether the right to vote is worth more than a threat to their beautiful lifestyle.  The young and educated — like the woman activist I met with — know that the two are not mutually exclusive; the Egyptian people can have (and deserve) both.  But, the dividends of self-governance have been slow to pay.  The Revolution has caused much pain for the average Egyptian and the dreams of the Revolution are not fully realized.   Thus, to make this Revolution work, the people will need to make a leap of faith, one that has been only an abstract idea since the time of the Pyramids.  Let us hope that American foreign policy can support a peaceful transition to democracy, not inhibit it.

Sean Tierney ’05 is in his third year at the University of Michigan Law School.
-Father William Fulco, SJ, PhDLMU curriculum vitae

Funeral services for Mary Jean Tanner

Please keep the Tanner family in your thoughts and prayers. A funeral service for Mrs. Mary Jean Tanner will be held in the Brophy Chapel on Mon-May 21 at 1:00pm. Father Tom Allender and Msgr O’Grady will preside. Mrs. Tanner is survived by her children: Ray Tanner ’62, James Tanner ’66, Tom Tanner ’69, John Tanner ’73, Michael Tanner ’76 (Gerard HS) and daughters (all Xavier grads;) Mary Pat Wiley, Kathey Metteer, Teresa Tiffany and over 27 grandchildren including Joey Tanner ‘04. She married her husband, Ray (dec.) in the chapel in 1942.

Santiago Azpurua-Borras ’09 Publishes First Book

How Do I College?

Currently an Editor at The Middlebury Campus, a student weekly publication at Middlebury College, Santiago Azpurua-Borras ’09 recently self-published his first book of tips and advice for a successful (and fun) freshman year.

His book differs from the myriad college books on the market in that it’s about transitioning and surviving the freshman year of college. Santiago admits the difficulty, “especially if you’re attending an out of state school. Everything is just one giant torrent of change and it can be difficult to keep it all in check.”

Santiago has been working on this project for some time now and finally discovered the means to self-publish after talking with his mother’s colleague, Professor Danny MacIntyre, at Glendale Community College.

MacIntyre gave Santiago the encouragement he needed and challenged him to finish this book by the end of 2012. Seems he made that goal.

Santiago wrote in an email today, “Being a published author has also been a dream of mine since I was in the 8th grade, and knowing I could make it a reality with my own hard work only pushed me harder.”

How Do I College? at Amazon.com

Read more from Santiago at The Middlebury Campus, online student weekly publication

Prayers for the Pomeroy family

Mitch Pomeroy, father of Stephen Pomeroy ’00 and Nick Pomeroy ’07 passed away unexpectedly on May 4, 2012.

Mitch was born in Illinois but still considered himself a native of Arizona. He will be deeply missed by his high school sweetheart (and wife) Cathy, and sons Stephen & Nick who considered Dad to be the rock in their lives.

Mitch was always a big kid at heart, loved spending time with his family and relaxing while gardening or fishing. He had a passion for helping people, was there anytime someone needed him, quick with a smile, ready to laugh and always happy to lend a tool or hand to anyone in need. Mitch wanted “no fuss.” Thus, private services will be held at Hansen Chapel 8314 N 7th St Phoenix, AZ 85068 on Friday May 11th.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mitch’s honor to the Brophy College Preparatory Memorial Fund (4701 N Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012).

Mitch’s family wants to thank all the friends, neighbors, and co-workers for their love, prayers, and kind thoughts during this difficult time. We know Mitch would like to thank all of you who helped him live, work, raise a family, and share a good laugh along the way – you all meant the world to him.

Make a donation online now using the form below or contact Jenny Lewis, Donations Manager, at 602.264.5291 ext 6200 or jlewis@brophyprep.org

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