February 2011

I have scrapped my planned comment for this month as it impossible not to note the incredible events happening in the Arab world. Having lived for 5 years in Tunisia and 4 years in Egypt, I feel a personal stake in the outcomes, as well as the universal stake we all have in seeing peace and the rule of the people take hold. We are all watching anxiously as events unfold, and I regret the loss of contact with my Egyptian friends. My friends in Tunisia tell me that they are struggling to deal with the exigencies of daily life, while trying to determine how they can have a real say in their future.  

Tragically, in Egypt the violence continues, and opportunists and looters have begun to take advantage of the situation to wreak havoc on their fellow Egyptians. But, as Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s dedicated and charismatic Director of Antiquities said yesterday “good Egyptians have stepped forward” to guard the National Museum and other sites, literally with their lives, forming a human chain around the museum. Egypt, Tunisia, and the other Arab countries on the edge of turmoil all have a rich cultural heritage of which they are justly proud. It is their gift to the world, and it is vital to all of us that it be preserved. Let us hope reflect with pride on the fact that in the midst of these life-changing and life-threatening events, culture has not been forgotten.