”President Mohamad Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president of Egypt and has assigned the Higher Council of the Armed Forces to run the affairs of the country.”
As I watched the people of Egypt celebrate this historic moment, I wanted to go into the streets to beat the drums and wave the flags. The scenes on TV brought me back to very familiar images.
It made me wish I was old enough to have been in the streets at that time.
I had been pondering why Mubarak had to wait 18 long days before finally giving in to the pleas of his people.
Jeffrey Kluger in his TIMES article What Was Mubarak Thinking? leads us inside the mind of a dictator.
”First of all, never underestimate the impenetrability of the presidential bubble. Dictators dislike dissent and they surround themselves with sycophants. It is quite common for them to have no idea about how they’re actually viewed by their people.
”We all have a more accurate impression of other people — their skills, temperaments and talents — than we do of ourselves. We’re just not good self-evaluators. Now scale that up to an aging dictator who’s been in office for decades.”
“There’s always a voice in the dictator’s brain that says you should get out now but the voices in the middle, the ones that are unsure, are the loudest, and that keeps him where he is. After a while, however, the dictator stops worrying about the longer-term future and instead worries about the near-term danger of being wrong. You saw the same thing from the Shah and Nicolae Ceausecu. They made all these speeches saying I’m never going to leave and then boom, suddenly they’re gone.”
”Think of a dog that’s snarling at you and looks like it’s ready to snap. The fact is, at the same time, he’s right at the point of running away with his tail between his legs.”
A lot of us are Marcoses and Mubaraks living inside a ”dictatorial bubble”.
It is hard for us to see the world the way everyone else does. We put ourselves in self-appointed pedestals and surround ourselves with flatterers. We have built our own regime of exaggerated self-opinion and when we fall, we point our fingers at anyone except oursleves.
I myself am guilty. I rule when service is needed. I debate when silence is required. I hold my ground even when humility is the simpliest answer. I shift the spotlight to myself when it should have been the Lord’s. With my pride I have lost a lot of opportunities for dignified exits.
I should stop insisting grass is red when all others are pointing out it’s green.
Egypt has taught me a lesson.