Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Lessons From Tunisia And Egypt

A friend of mine shared this with me on Facebook, and I couldn't let it just sit there without sharing it here.
The Tunisians and Egyptians, in shaking off long-standing dictators, have inspired the downtrodden and hopeless well beyond their borders. We can learn a lot from their experiences. Here are some of the lessons:

1. Courage trumps tyranny. Courage is contagious. It just needs to be nurtured and kindled.
2. An authoritarian police state is no match for nonviolent people power. An uprising grounded in the prayers of the oppressed is a tremendous thing. Ordinary people can change their own situation.
3. Expect no support from the “international community.” In fact, at best, expect ambivalence and a steady supply of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.
4. Change can occur without strapping explosives to torsos or vehicles, without bombs or bullets.
5. Change isn’t easy or free. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of martyrs, as Thomas Jefferson once said.
6. Once fear of the tyrant and his minions is removed from the hearts of the people, the game is up.
7. Once the tipping point comes, once the paradigm shift occurs, things change rapidly and suddenly. The mighty will fall quickly. The tiger, you will find out, was made of paper after all.
8. You don’t have to wait for a Great Leader. You don’t have to wait for the Messiah. You don’t have to wait for “Salaheddin.” You just need good grassroots organizing and will. Mosques and churches help. New communication tools like smart phones and social media also help.
9. Cruel, callous regimes don’t last forever. Regimes that limit freedoms and crush dreams certainly cannot last.
10. Tyrants are not immune from revolt. Revolts are not immune from tyranny either. The gains of change must be defended against chaos, anarchy, and other bad happenings.
The author, Mas'ood Cajee, is a board member of the Muslim Peace Fellowship.

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