Monday, February 21, 2011
The world could look vastly different by 2012...
We're sitting in front rows seats as history unfolds in the Middle East, but most people are already bored and ready to change the channel.
60 Minutes aired a segment last night on the 26-old Tunisian fruit vendor most Westerners have never heard of...Mohammed Bouazizi. His act of defiance was the initial domino to fall in the ongoing sequence of revolutionary events. I encourage you to check the story out here.
Tunisians ran a corrupt dictator in power for 23 years right out of the country by protesting in mass numbers. Far too many numbers for the small government police force to try to control. Nevertheless, people died to bring change to their country. At the center of the revolutionary movement...Facebook.
Egypt took note. So did Yemen, Bahrain and Libya with ongoing protest still to determine an outcome. Iranian revolutionaries have tried to gain some type of momentum for change, but unlike the uprisings in the fore-mentioned countries, they lack the ability to coordinate and mobilize. They lack access to the new tools of revolution...Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Americans have become so saturated with daily doses of sensationalism from the 24-hour news stations that it has become increasingly difficult to recognize what history will record as pivotal and what will be forgotten next week. I believe we are watching history on a 'once in a generation or two' scale unfold. Our country has been fighting for democratic change in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade at the cost of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, while the action of a single, working and obscure man in one of the most peaceful nations on the planet triggered a wave of change still plowing through the region. Dictators Mubarak and Ben Ali are gone. Al-Asaad, Saleh and Gadhafi could be the next to go. Ahmadinejad can't be feeling too comfortable after Iranians protested over accused fraud in his 2009 re-election. My, my...the winds of change are whipping through the Arab region like never before.
Another crucial point to consider is the role Islam will ultimately play after all this shakes out. The Western view of democracy vastly differs from the rising views of the Middle East where democracy and freedom of religion (and thus, ultimately speech) are not interlaced. Stephen Prothero, professor of Religion at Boston University, has an excellent editorial piece in the USA Today that's worth checking out here.
No conclusions today folks...this one's got a ways to play out. Stay informed because in the end, it's really going to matter.