Being from Africa, I was deeply moved by the events in Egypt last week. Don’t worry – this is not a political blog. What moved me was the power of non-violence (which is the political term for what I call Emotional Intelligence).
I have held in very high regard both Mahatma Ghandhi and Nelson Mandela for exactly the same reason. I don’t imagine anyone ever measured their EQ, but you can guess it must have been off the charts. To suspend the legitimate anger and legal reasons for retribution against decades of imperialism is quite a manifestation of self-regulation and empathy. Both these great leaders knew that there is a stark difference between being right and doing the right thing. They did the latter.
I am aware there was violence and bloodshed in Egypt, but it was fairly nominal and not by the proud and courageous people of Egypt. Whereas black south Africans had Mandela and Indians (both Hindus and Muslims) had Ghandhi to lead their non-violent revolutions, the Egyptians merely had each other. Forgive my memory if I am wrong, but I can’t seem to recall the last leaderless revolution.
The level of emotional regulation that thousands of Egyptians displayed prior to Mubarak’s resignation is quite possibly the most inspiring act I have seen a group of people display. I wish I had been there as a researcher to observe the dynamics of human communication and behavior. The best I could do was to observe them from dozens of Twitter and Facebook accounts. A constant in all the people and sites that I followed was the message for people to manage their emotions and not allow violence to erupt. Neighbors took over security of their streets around their homes, strangers established check points in Tahrir Square and confiscated all weapons, etc.
Right Management revealed last month that almost 85% of American workers are dissatisfied with their current jobs and want to find a new one this year. Compare our frustrations at work with thirty years of oppression under a dictator. I am well aware that all organizations have people and business practices that legitimately frustrate us. When we run into either of them this week, I wonder how many of us will suspend our legitimate anger and think of how the Egyptians successfully orchestrated a positive change what was unimaginable thirty days ago.