New civic spirit still alive on Cairo's streets

You see it in the little things. Trash bins on Cairo bridges that never had them before.  Volunteer clean up crews of young men in tough districts like Imbaba where there was always trash on the streets.

And on the Kasr el Nil bridge leading to Tahrir Square this engaging volunteer crew was painting faces and hands with the colors of Egypt's flag, charging a small fee and using the money to buy paint and paint the bridge railing green.

Volunteers sweep Cairo's streets. (Trudy Rubin / Inquirer)

This newly liberated civic spirit, if harnessed, could make Egypt a different country where people took individual responsibility for their lives, and also held their government responsible for carrying out its duties (including the honest, not corrupted, collection taxes and the provision of services such as garbage collection). This civic pride - in a country where there has long been none - could make Egypt unique in the region.

It would be criminal to let such youthful energy dissipate into cynicism and disappointment. Keep your fingers crossed.