Although it’s always nice to be home, I must say returning home from this trip felt better than most. Travel fatigue really hit me hard this time. I think a lot of it had to do with the bad experiences in Egypt. As much as I try to tell myself that the sites were amazing and there did seem to be genuinely nice people there, I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that I kinda got ripped off somehow. This morning I woke up lost, thinking that I was in a hotel somewhere and thought to myself, “Which way is the bathroom? Did I miss the sunrise? What am I going to shoot instead?” It took a moment to realize that I was home and that the pressure was off and I could lay back down and relax for a while.
In my final analysis of this experience and what is currently happening in the region, I fear for the Middle East and North Africa. From my very limited, outside perspective these are my thoughts.
I think Egypt has a chance of getting a real democracy, one that it deserves. But I think it is a long way from helping all of it’s people get out of poverty and this will continue to create unrest within the country. I believe much the problem is deeply rooted.
As for Syria? I fear that the country is headed to a bloody civil war. There are many in the country who seem to love their ruler, Asad Bashar. The current violence shows that there are many who do not. They will clash. As a whole, from the people peddling tourist junk to the cobbler, Syrians just nice seem to be nice people who understand hospitality. A civil war is beneath them and I hope they will find common ground.
In my few contacts with Christians in both Egypt and Syria, I came to this realization: if you oppress or even give the impression that you are oppressing a minority population (or any population for that matter) they will do what they can to assert their “human rights” and their “place”. Whether that is a religious or ethnic minority it doesn’t matter. We see it here in this country and I see it everywhere in the world I have traveled. Somehow, as a community we must figure out how to allow minorities to exist not only among us but among themselves. Minorities do not need to be like us to be a part of us; and do not need to be a part of us to be like us.