THIS is a fascinating weekend to celebrate love. Not love that is syrupy sweet and immature in scope, but love that is powerful enough to decimate an enemy like fear.
It was love that transformed ordinary Egyptians into revolutionaries after decades of authoritarian rule. It was love that caused hundreds of thousands of protesters, young and old, rich and poor, to face the fears that had held them in check for so long. It was love that made them stand in the face of brutality and force. It was the same kind of love we know so well in this country - the love of freedom.
It was particularly poignant to watch the protests swell even as pro-government forces mounted attacks in an attempt to quell the youth-fueled uprising. Watching the pitched battle that pitted Egyptians against one another in a fight for the soul of a country reminded me in many ways of America's own struggles. We struggled against other nations, we struggled against one another and we struggled within ourselves.
America, after all, has seen firsthand much of what we witnessed in Egypt. We've seen people rise up against tyranny. We've seen young people take to the streets. We've seen innocents killed in the crossfire. And in all of this, we've seen both the beauty and the ugliness of democracy.
Early on, I watched as riot police turned water cannons and tear gas on young Egyptians, and was reminded of the young people who'd suffered similar fates in the African-American struggle for civil rights. While watching the Egyptians, I remembered my visit to the Birmingham church where four little girls were killed by a bomb that went off while they were attending Sunday school. I watched the Egyptians and remembered the tears that streamed down my face as I touched the wall where those young martyrs perished. And then I saw the tears that Google manager Wael Ghonim cried while apologizing to the families of those who'd died in the Egyptian protests he helped to begin.
While watching Egypt erupt in protest, I realized that I was standing with them. That while I was half a world away, speaking a different language, immersed in a different culture, experiencing a different reality, I saw myself in the faces of those young people. I saw the American experience in the determination of those protesters. I saw defiance. I saw hope. But more than anything, I saw love.
Only love could make a man like Ghonim, who'd been arrested early on in the protests, emerge from jail and stand before his fellow revolutionaries declaring that he was ready to die. His was not a love for attention or power. No, it was a love for freedom. It was a love that would not be denied, no matter how many perished in its pursuit. It was a love for self that said I would rather not live at all than to live in a world where my countrymen suffer hopelessness.
At the end of the day, that love is the kind that lasts, for there is no greater love than that of a man who would lay down his life for his friends, for his family, for his country. There is no love more enduring than one that would die in repression so that others could live in freedom.
During this, the time of year when we celebrate romantic love that warms our hearts and connects us to one another, let us not forget the kind of love that brings ultimate freedom. It is love that gives rather than takes. It sacrifices instead of expecting. It acts instead of waiting. It stands instead of sitting. It is the only kind of love that can change the world.
We saw it take hold in Egypt. It was a powerful reflection of our better selves. May that kind of love never die.
Solomon Jones' column appears every Saturday. He can be reached at