Jubilation is catching. It is impossible, for me at least, to watch the crowds in Egypt, overjoyed at Hosni Mubarak's hotly-desired resignation, with dry eyes and an unclenched throat. . . .
I admit that I am more than a little tempted to rain on the parade and note that Mr Mubarak's departure guarantees nothing and that it is not unreasonable to fear a turn for the worse. There's a tiny, stability-loving Burke on my shoulder, and I'm afraid he's no devil. All the same, for now I'm not listening. Well, I did listen a little, but I've heard enough. It is partly due to my Burkean worries that I feel the pessimist in me should just stuff it for now. Whether or not Egypt flowers into a model democracy, whether or not Egyptians tomorrow live more freely than Egyptians today, today they threw off a tyrant. The surge of overwhelming bliss that has overtaken Egyptians is the rare beautitude of democratic will. The hot blush of liberation, a dazzled sense of infinite possibility swelling millions of happy breasts is a precious thing of terrible, unfathomable beauty, and it won't come to these people again. Whatever the future may hold, this is the happiest many people will ever feel. This is the best day of some peoples' lives. The tiny Dionysian anarchist on my other shoulder is no angel, but I cannot deny that there is something holy in this feeling, that it is one of few human experiences that justifies life—that satisfies, however briefly, our desperate craving for more intensity, for more meaning, for more life from life. Whatever the future holds, there will be disappointment, at best. But there is always disappointment. Today, there is joy.