A wide spot in my imagination.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Flag at the Revolution

I don't pretend to entirely understand the situation in Egypt. It appears to me that President Mubarak has held tightly and violently to power for several decades. Thanks to a quick-rising, technologically-connected revolt, his reign appears (rightly) doomed. The Egyptian people are clamoring for freedom and representative government.

This morning as I drove my kids to school, I saw a flag flying from an apartment balcony across from their school. The tricolored bands of red, white and black with a gold eagle stamped in the center flapped vivid colors into the early-morning grey of this wintry day.

"Hey, look. Is that an Egyptian flag," I asked. My eight year-old daughter did a quick Google search on my phone, and confirmed my guess.

And in that moment, I got it.

The apartment complex where that flag was flying is not exactly a high-rent place. In fact, it has a reputation as a pretty rough place. But there flew that flag. My hunch is that some immigrants from Egypt live there. Maybe multiple generations crowded together. I bet someone (or some ones) in that apartment works hard at a low-paying job to cover the rent. And I bet they're keeping a close eye on the TV these days, watching a revolution unfold in the old country.

I got it. All of a sudden, I knew something of what Francis Scott Key felt like when he scribbled lines about a star-spangled banner he could see across the Baltimore Harbor. I could feel something of Dr. King's vision from the mountaintop where he saw little children of all colors playing together.

I admit, I sometimes get a little nervous when people talk about reverence for a flag. Part of my says, "Yeah, but it's just material stitched together." And it is. But those stitched-together parts can be powerful symbols of freedom, of hope, and of people.

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