EDITORIAL: A world in rebellion to tyranny
IS THE WORLD finally cracking up? From the look of events unfolding across the volatile Middle East and North Africa region, it certainly seems so. Governments are toppling, buildings are ablaze and protesters are “tweeting” their way to freedom – of sorts.
Even within the United States last week tens of thousands of public sector workers and disgruntled union activists were on the verge of storming the Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin, to protest proposed cuts to their retirement and health benefits. It is therefore fair to say that rebellion is catching on globally.
It is also clear that governments are not able to anticipate the future. Two of the best intelligence agencies in the world with access to Egyptian officials, with a long and important presence in Egypt, were all unable to anticipate the crisis that unfolded in this most important nation of 80 million people in the heart of the Middle East.
The recent uprising by millions of people in Egypt against the atrocities and excesses by the few tell us that miracles do happen. When the will of the people becomes unified, it personifies and acts like a prophet. It then does not indeed need the staff of Moses to part the Nile and drown the pharaohs of our times.
In strictly political terms, freedom is nothing but the ability to recognize, demand and exercise one’s fundamental rights, as a human being. It is well known that the iron-fisted dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt had mocked and trampled the very definition of freedom.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt aptly described the Egyptian uprising as a “demographic tsunami” of North Africa. It seems now that the unified outcry for change in Egypt would catalyze and resonate in other parts in that region, and the wider world, sooner or later.
Sadly, the state of affairs in many other African countries is not very different – arguably even worse than that in Tunisia or Egypt. The dictatorships of Zine al Abidine in Tunisia (23 years), Hosni Mubarak in Egypt (30 years) and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe (33 years) ushered nothing but abject poverty and corruption in government.
Worse still, they have robbed the younger generation of the right to dream big and achieve success. Since times unknown, tyrants have used the tools of power to deprive the masses of their dignity and control of their destiny.
In their hubris they pretend to be god-like. The pharaohs lived during ancient times, but they still abound in the 21st century in many countries. Happily, in the end, every tyrant is destined to drown in the sea of ignominy.
At this time, Benjamin Franklin’s admonition rings true: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
We ignore both of these lessons from Egypt at our peril.