On Sunday December 2, the front page edition of the New York Times featured a story on the growing panic in Russia. The general public has swallowed a story that the world will end on December 21. Known as the Long Count in the Mayan calendar, this date is supposed to mark the End. In this nation of poets and mystical thinking, the Russian public is shaking like a leaf. Father Tikhon Irshenko was whisked to prison colony No. 10 in the village of Gornoye to quiet women prisoners who were having seizures because they were convinced the End was in sight.
This fascinating little story presents a parable about what is happening in the Middle East. Syria got the word from Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama that if they start using chemical weapons, the United States will respond. Syria must know that could spell disaster. Meanwhile, Egypt is upside down and there’s no decrease in the turmoil. Citizens are in the streets and people have been killed in demonstrations. Across the border in Israel, the Palestinians arbitrarily sought recognition in the United States. In response, Israel declared they would immediately start building 3,000 new homes in occupied territories as well as cut off returning collected funds to the Palestinians. Many observers worry that the Palestinians actions and the Israeli response may be closing the door on a two state solution in Palestine.
Yeah, sounds like the end of a world to me.
Obviously, it isn’t the end of time, but the radical changes in the Middle East are changing a world that once was predictable and now something quite different is emerging. The times they are a-changing. Big time.
In Egypt, regardless of what the two opposing sides are saying, the current upheaval is not about working for democracy. Egypt is locked in an old fashioned political war between two sides that deeply distrust each other. The revolution is not over. When judges are afraid to show up for work because Islamic demonstrators may attack them, you know the situation is out of control. Without a functioning judicial system, Egypt can only sink deeper in turmoil. President Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood are striking to keep the judiciary from over turning the new constitution because it imposes an Islamic state on Egypt. No doubt the Brotherhood will try to ram the new constitution through regardless of what Christians and more secular elements wish. The caldron has not stopped boiling in Egypt.
This week more than 200,000 citizens thronged Cario’s Tahir Square chanting, and shouting protests against Morsi’s decree giving himself dictorial power. Demonstrations broke out across the country with people being killed. The situation is far from over as no one is backing down. Obviously, the Brotherhood will use any means possible to force acceptance of the new constitution which would turn Egypt in to a Moslem state shutting out Christians and more liberal minded citizens. What’s ahead? No predictions are possible, but tensions will continue at a high level.
Maybe the Russians are on to something. The Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church issued a statement saying that the world would surely end someday, but not because of a Mayan Calendar. The final days will come because of the “moral decline of humanity.” Well, that’s not an optimistic statement for Egypt.
Part 2 continues in the next blog.