Zen Ironing and Laundry Room Democracy

by Emily Kemme

Tuesday came and went again this week without a visit from my confreres to lend me companionship while I was holed up in the laundry room, and I’m afraid that it may be several weeks before we have another congenial tale-swap.  Nurse Lovee tends to spearhead these concatenations, linking the three of us together of her own accord.  Quite truthfully, if it were up to me, I would remain alone on Tuesday afternoons, swathed in steam, surrounded by a two-foot pile of clean clothes begging to be ironed and a swarm of thoughts of my own making.

This is not to be for some time; Nurse Lovee finally bit the bullet, scheduled the appointment, and succumbed to the aches in her knees.  At the ripe young age of 50, Nurse Lovee has buffed and polished up her legs with the addition of two new knees.  Iron Girl was on watch duty, providing updated progress reports throughout the day, and saw the procedure through to completion, after a measly 7 hours in the O.R.  That’s quite a day.  But, my Nurse buddy is a champ; I’m sure she’ll be dancing and skipping down the Yellow Brick Road before I can say, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. . .”

I squirreled there a bit, but now I’m back to the iron.  And the steam, all of which is coaxing out thoughts as I run the iron several times across a rather mulish wrinkle in a rayon viscose stretchy flowered shirt made in Egypt.  Ahhh.  I thought I heard a pin drop.  As have many, I began to ruminate about all of those wrinkles that have irrepressibly rippled across the surfaces of the African and Asian continents over the past month or so.

In that part of the world that is so defined by sand, sand that shifts and changes and is blown by the wind into lovely patterned swirls, there has arisen a plethora of wrinkles.  The revolution in Egypt has crept, wrinkly uprising by wrinkly uprising, across several continents.   It is fueled by young people, and their adherence to rapid-fire technology that permits coordination of an entire revolution through what we once considered to just be social chit-chatter.

I was curious to poll my ironing companions about this one, not so much because this would be one of those topics about which we three would dispute, but more so because these revolutions appear to be pushed along by faceless communication.  Don’t get me wrong; much of my communications with the other two are through texting.  We get a lot accomplished by peering into those little screens, and yet, it is through our occasional groupings together, face to face, sharing beer and stories, that our friendship has grown and developed teeth.

That is interesting in and of itself, considering we three have vast differences of opinion with regard to religion, the political color spectrum and what we like to do on a Saturday night.  Not to mention the congregation of a lawyer, a nurse and an athlete, all in one cramped room.  It’s an odd group.

Egypt’s astonishing revolution has brought the globe to a halt as we watch, and wait.  Its impetus has left not only wrinkles, but has in fact created creases, dividing tyrannical dictators from their armies and people no less than the Red Sea separated Moses from the pursuing pharaoh.  What began as crimps in dictatorial plans look to be evolving into furrows along which the seeds of Democracy have been sown.  But, these revolutionaries haven’t reached the Promised Land yet, nor is there a land to which they may escape.

Many among the Founding Fathers of our country believed that pure democracy, and freedom for freedom’s sake, was an unworkable and dangerous method of government.  It is for this reason that we have a representative democracy.  Both John Adams and Alexander Hamilton were concerned about the anarchy that could arise if citizens could not be controlled.  The colonies saw many riots before and after the Revolution.  The Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790‘s is an example of that.  Mob rule and citizen rebellion aren’t old concepts; it still happens.  The enforcement of Brown v. Board of Education in the 1950’s in Little Rock is a more recent example.  In that situation, the only reason the United State Supreme Court’s ruling went into effect was because force was used.  Balance is necessary.

Muslim extremists use religion as a club, and yet supposedly, their religion promotes peace and justice, for most mainstream believers.  If there are a handful of Egyptians who can get that word across, if given freedom to do so by the military, they are on the road to democracy.  If they can keep the radicals at bay, they might succeed.  If they can convince the general public that freedom encompasses justice, it may happen.  I hope there is a balance between the military, and those designing democracy in back rooms and through social networks.  If democracy is imposed from outside, it may not happen.  The difference in Egypt is that the movement is coming from within.

I wished I could share these thoughts with my laundry room compatriots, to see what they’d have to say.  Instead, I ironed alone.

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1 comment

rkahn February 26, 2011 - 4:44 am

The speed with which things happen today makes all these uprisings so dangerous,the 18th and 19th centuries events seemed initially so local because of limtations of communication. Also, the present events can spread into complications which involve the entire world, such as the status of the Suez canal, and our dependance on mideast energy. On the other hand, if events there are negative, what will those people in that area eat, who will feed those famished.

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