January 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
Who could have guessed at the significance when the people of Tunisia took to the streets “ with a rock in one hand, and a cell phone in the other?” Today, the Tunisian people watch carefully as the government prepares a reshuffle of its ministers, the spirit of resistance is anything but absent. I’m not sure if we will see further oustings of presidents, but we are certainly seeing protests across the globe building on Tunisia’s momentum.
In Yemen, the protests for press freedoms fueled by the arrest of an outspoken female writer have taken a weightier direction. After 3 decades in power, the people are calling for President Ali Abdullah Saled to step down. Mr. Saled at this moment has only a few more years left in his term. However, his proposed legislative changes would allow him another decade. This slippery slope is more than the people of Yemen are willing to risk.
And then of course, there’s Egypt. I’m sure you’ve seen the revolts. But it’s business as usual among their political leaders even with the largest sit-ins and demonstrations seen in decades and with Secretary of State Clinton urging them to “respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” At the moment, they haven’t seemed to have made an effort to placate the demands of the people, which range from political reform to meeting their every day needs. You seen, the economic growth seen by Egypt in recent years is but a distant vision for the bulk of its population. So despite government crackdowns and warnings, the citizens themselves are breaking the fear factor; they are pushing forward their demands and doing so without the direction of any single political party. If you want some good coverage that’s not from a major news station, check out: http://www.theawl.com/2011/01/tonight-in-cairo-the-parliament-is-surrounded
The way I see it each of these individual events, each separate nation or group within a nation, is a contributor to a greater movement. If these demonstrations are the seeds, tractors, and rain, then social medias are the Miracle Grow or DDT sprayed on the soil. Certainly, with our catalytic social media pesticide we are able to circumnavigate the pesky censorship that would otherwise ruin our crop. But are we running the risk of a societal Silent Spring? In other words, what are the repercussions of unrestrained social media, when so much of the world’s media gets linked to the West? When the people reap what they’ve sown, will it look like the genetically modified produce in Safeway or will it be organic? All I’m saying is that the nations calling and working for change need to make sure they’re not simply reproducing what’s seen in other “fields”. In my opinion, that’s precisely why their countries ended up in their current state of economic frustration in the first place, they brought about “change” that simply mimicked the West or followed their instructions. And a handful of decades later, we see that the methods prescribed and followed failed. True change needs to be influenced from within, based on the specific needs of the people. This current movement seems grassroots enough, but I’m worried that without continued momentum, the power of the people will once again be wrangled into the hands of a select few.