Fac­ing un­cer­tainty

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

Fe­bru­ary is like the Wed­nes­day of win­ter. Wed­nes­day, in the mid­dle of the work week, is the day when the nov­elty of the new week has pretty much worn off, but the week­end is still just a speck on the dis­tant hori­zon. Once through Wed­nes­day though, you can be­gin to see day­light.

Fe­bru­ary is a good month to get through, too. It seems we have suc­ceeded in do­ing it for an­other year. Good news if you con­sider the al­ter­na­tive.

The longer the time nor­mally oc­cu­pied by win­ter ticked away with mild tem­per­a­tures and no snow to speak of, win­ter-haters were di­vided into two groups. There were the op­ti­mists who said there wasn’t go­ing to be a win­ter and the pes­simists who in­sisted we would pay for the mild weather later.

Win­ter-lovers pro­nounced just the re­verse. It has been an un­set­tling and only par­tially sat­is­fac­tory sea­son for both groups, a win­ter that was re­luc­tant to get started but once it got un­der­way, made up for lost time. Un­set­tling be­cause if you are look­ing for some­thing you can count on, these days the weather is not a place where you are go­ing to get sat­is­fac­tion. The weather is truly chang­ing

The ap­pear­ance of sig­nif­i­cant ex­tra min­utes of light each day is some­what re­as­sur­ing, guar­an­tee­ing that spring is just around the cor­ner like it al­ways has been at this time ev­ery year. But what is a flock of fifty Bo­hemian Waxwings do­ing fly­ing along the shore, look­ing for food, pitch­ing wher­ever there is a patch of tuck­amore not buried in snow. These birds rarely come here at all, and cer­tainly not so early as this.

Does it mean an early spring? Or does it mean that the Bo­hemian Waxwings are scout­ing out new ter­ri­tory to adapt to a new re­al­ity. If that is so, does that new re­al­ity mean more hor­rific hur­ri­canes like Igor and other shock­ing events like the Christ­mas Eve storm surge that did so much dam­age along the north­east coast? Un­set­tling times for cer­tain. But if I am feel­ing un­cer­tain and be­moan­ing my lot as I say good­bye to this Wed­nes­day of Win­ter 2011, there are oth­ers who are fac­ing a fu­ture much more un­cer­tain than mine.

I could be liv­ing in a coun­try where, if you speak out against your gov­ern­ment, men with guns come to your house at night and take you away never to be seen again. I could be liv­ing in a coun­try where if you want to change the un­cer­tainty in which you live, you must take to the streets and risk your life to bring down your gov­ern­ment.

I was pro­foundly in­spired by the courage and un­wa­ver­ing direc­tion of the young peo­ple of Egypt. De­spite liv­ing in a very re­pres­sive coun­try where no dis­sent was per- mit­ted, they took hold of what­ever tech­nol­ogy they were able to get their hands on.

Never mind that Face­book was cre­ated by a young ge­nius and his frat-boy friends in or­der to rate how hot were the young women they went to school with. The young Egyp­tians, how­ever, found a le­git­i­mate use for this pow­er­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool: com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

With it they co-or­di­nated the demon­stra­tions in the cen­ter of Cairo that fi­nally chased Hosni Mubarak from of­fice. Their peace­ful protests also in­spired the Egyp­tian army, who re­fused to use vi­o­lence against them. It re­mains to be seen how the story of democ­racy in Egypt will un­fold but to date it has been a model of peace­ful de­ter­mi­na­tion.

What a con­trast with what is hap­pen­ing in other African and Mid­dle East dic­ta­tor­ships.

I thought I would weep with joy when I saw the tele­vi­sion footage of the young demon­stra­tors sweep­ing up the de­bris left be­hind in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. “It is our coun­try now,” one young woman said. “ We must take care of it.”

In a few weeks I will be­gin tak­ing care of the dam­age from Igor and the storm surges. As I re­build my wharf, re­place the rock wall at the top of the beach and put my out­house back in place, I will have no way to be sure that any­thing I erect will with­stand what may be the new re­al­ity of cli­mate change. What I do know is that my un­cer­tainty is noth­ing com­pared to that faced by the coura­geous young peo­ple of Egypt.

I wish them all the good luck in the world.

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