TORQUE: any force or system of forces that causes or tends to cause rotation

I’ve admitted to you before that I have no skills when it comes to things mechanical.  My favorite saying is that I have trouble distinguishing between an Allen Wrench and a Phillips Head Screwdriver.  The fact that they both have proper names in them is confusing to me.
So when I focus on a very, very mechanical term like torque I have to admit to being outside my skill area.   However, the concept of torque is something that intrigues me.  I don’t necessarily understand how the pieces work, but the concept of taking something that is turning in one direction and having the ability to re-direct it in a completely different direction amazes me.  It is not the first time that I’ve been awed by things mechanical nor the people who are responsible for maintaining them.   I’m amazed by mechanics who work on cars, for instance, particularly as they have become more and more computerized.

I remember the days when the garage mechanic was basically self-taught, and worked for minimal wages in a greasy, unhealthy atmosphere.   Despite those characterizations, I was in awe of them.   At one time my father played a role in an automobile dealership (Kaiser/Frazer for those of you who have to go to Google to figure out what I just said.)  I spent a good amount of time hanging around the dealership with him, and it never occurred to me that there was a “pecking order” in the employees.  To me, the mechanic in the greasy jumpsuit was just as awesome as the person calculating the costs, insurance, interest, etc.  He did things that were magic to me.

So the word torque … a very, very mechanical term … falls into that category of things that amaze me and hold me in awe.

Strangely, I heard the term most recently in the hospital where a doctor was describing the functions of mechanical inserts (such as the artificial knee I had inserted into my body.) I had never heard the term used in any way other than the description of an automotive function.   The knee isn’t restricted to a forward motion, and there are times when it is important to change the direction of the body’s motion instantaneously.   That change of direction requires pretty sophisticated equipment that doesn’t resist the call for change.

You can see where I’m going.   The term torque has the capability of being a metaphor to describe the need for a body (or a movement, or a government) to change directions quickly.   The body needs to keep moving forward, but there may be a need for some manipulation of the elements of that movement.

I can’t help but believe that the movement toward democracy in Egypt is going to require a strong torque package.  There will be resistance to forward movement, energy to move forward rapidly, and a need for working parts of the nation to continue to move in one direction while giving headway to a new movement which takes the country in a new direction.   Maybe I’m stretching the definition of torque to apply it in this way, but as the nation of Egypt searches for leadership to take its fledgling democracy forward, it might want to look to the greasy, hard-working mechanics of the movement instead of the three-piece-suited executives who will rush forward.

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