February 25, 2011 § 12 Comments
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
I am in awe of the collective action and community organizing that we have been seeing across the Middle East and North Africa this winter. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day I felt glued to the radio, listening as the news cycled through reports on the increasingly successful protests in Tunisia, the vote to secede in Southern Sudan, and excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the words ringing out as powerfully that day as when it was first delivered. I couldn’t stop tears from welling into my eyes as I thought of all the remarkable, brave men and women who have stood up and are standing up for justice, for freedom, for what they knew was right.
Not long afterwards, I was actually sitting in a meeting working on developing a curriculum about community organizing to address systemic issues that prevent people from living healthfully. We were discussing historic examples of collective action, successful and unsuccessful, when one of my colleagues’ phone went off. He looked down at it then looked up, a grin spreading across his face. “Mubarak just announced he would step down from the presidency of Egypt,” he said. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had shivers all over their body as we erupted into applause. Awe inspiring. And now it is heartbreaking to see the horrific violence being used against the people in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain as they stand up and cry out for rights that so many of us take for granted. « Read the rest of this entry »