From Protests to Lattes

Egypt Demonstration – Harvard Square 1.29.11

Maybe the mark of an American protest is that the protester in a moment can go from  chanting pithy and informative slogans to the local coffee shop for a latte of their choice, be it caramel or hazelnut. Therein is the gift we have in our freedom. We are steps removed from wherever the trouble is and so even though we may care deeply about a situation, we easily go back to our normal lives without having to face real danger or show true courage.

The protest that my husband and I took part in yesterday at Harvard Square, while deeply desiring to support Egyptians, cannot compare to the amazing spirit shown in the Egyptian people and what they have endured to have a voice in the future of Egypt. Armed with banners and a couple of megaphones about 200 of us marched from Harvard Square through to Central Square. The march went on to Faneuil Hall but at Central we left, not for a latte, but for a shawarma at a tiny local spot called Falafel Palace.  The shawerma was delicious and we were in high spirits, having been with others who cared about the country and forced themselves away from Al Jazeera’s live stream to gather, but both of us realized we really don’t know what it’s like to not be able to voice what we think, when we think it, and where we want to express it.

It is sometimes tiresome to hear talk of how lucky we are to have freedom,hearing the largely clichéd phrase “freedom is not free”. But the reality is that participating in a peaceful assembly and openly voicing my views with no fear whatsoever (other than mispronouncing something in Arabic) is something I take for granted, and I think most of those surrounding me are the same. When it sinks in that my protest ends with a latte or shawerma, not stinging eyes from tear gas, soaked clothes from water cannons, and a blood filled eye from a baton then I don’t really care if I sound tiresome.  I still think it’s worth publicly documenting that freedom is indeed a not to be taken for granted gift.

14 thoughts on “From Protests to Lattes

  1. Why am I not surprised to see you and Cliff right there in the midst of a protest in Cambridge?
    We do take our freedom and our privileges very much for granted, in fact thinking of them as rights.


  2. Thanks for including the picture of you & hubby on the protest march. Great pic! And wonderful that you guys could get out and show your support for the Egyptian masses who so obviously are “mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore” (apologies to “Broadcast News””. Glad to hear you’ve also been in touch with Annie and that she’s well and “in the thick of it all.” Reminds me of our days in Tehran in ’79 up through the Islamic Revolution (may that NOT be the outcome in Egypt).


    1. Thanks much for the comment and reading – and I echo your words about the revolution! You’re so right – you’ve been right in the thick of things before.


  3. Hi Marilyn, I’m a friend of Annie’s. Thank you so so much for your updates, they really mean the world to us. I’m not sure if this will help, but I’ve heard unconfirmed ways to bypass the government blocking of websites. Annie should enter numerical IP addresses into her browser: Twitter ”” Facebook ”” Google ””. A French ISP offers free dial up internet access ~ +33 1 72 89 01 50 Login password: toto.

    I hope this helps, and thanks again for your updates!


    1. Thank you so much for this information. We just received an email from the university urging evacuation and they are evidently facilitating this for students so I am calling her right now with both the info that you sent as well as the info from the university. Really appreciate you sending me this! What is the best way for me to pass on information to you? And again at the risk of sounding too much like a mom thank you so much!!


  4. Hear hear to that. You really do have a point and put it across well – how could any of us understand what it’s like to go without the priviledges that we take for granted? Great post!


    1. Thanks for the comment and affirmation. I don’t think it’s a lack of passion and caring – but it’s exactly as you say – difficult to comprehend what it is like to not have the privilege. Appreciate the post.


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