How John characterizes our trip

Following is a little write-up from my friend John Olmsted about our project:

“Today this country is your country. Do not litter. Don’t drive through traffic lights. Don’t bribe. Don’t forge paperwork. Don’t drive the wrong way. Don’t drive quickly to be cool while putting lives at risk. Don’t enter through the exit door at the metro. Don’t harass women. Don’t say, ‘It’s not my problem.’ Consider God in your work. We have no excuse anymore.”
Flyer distributed in Tahrir square  2/12/11

Egypt: To capture a change in consciousness
Populations can seem to live in a sustained state of lethargy for long periods of time. Little seems to change from day to day, year to year.   With prolonged powerlessness and poverty people have been taught to expect nothing.   To be powerful agents on their own behalf appears far too dangerous and perhaps foolish.  Then suddenly it all changes dramatically (although in Egypt there was much organizing (less visible) going on for years, especially in the labor movement). People who last week would never imagine themselves being politically active agents in their lives are out in the streets marching, chanting, and winning a great victory.  They may find their previous powerlessness was an illusion of their own collective fear.

In the process of weeks of mobilization there are reports of significant changes in the consciousness of broad sections of the Egyptian population as a result of the uprising. These events raise important questions that we in the west can learn from:

What are the social/psychological/cultural changes for individual Egyptians?
What were the actions, examples, narratives that opened the gates to these changes?
Will these changes in consciousness hold over time and what do they say about the future of the society?
What can the Egyptian experience tell us about the dynamics of social, political and psychological change in general?
How are these experiences relevant for us in the U.S.?

I have been teaching and practicing in the field of psychology for the past 20 years.  From March 11-28, I and my friend David McDonald (professional photographer) will be in Cairo to try and capture these social/psychological and political changes.  We seek to produce a visual and spoken narrative of the widest cross section of the population engaged in the uprising.  It is our contention that we in the U.S. may have much to learn from their experience.
In advance of the trip we are soliciting input on how to best capture these changes in spirit while we are there.  We will be producing a film to share this experience in the west.

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