How a recent world development impacted me?
Not a day passes these days that some news really hit you hard. How could I not miss Osama Bin Laden’s killing being splashed everywhere? It was on Yahoo news, CNN flashed it for days, talk shows, colleagues and friends suddenly found something to gloat around. It filled us a week’s quota on the social calendar. It brought poignant memories of the World Trade Center. I guess terrorism is a subject best left handled by the Administration. It left a nation scarred and the impact since 9/11 has been increased security especially at the airports, malls, tubes.
But if there two recent events that I find mind-boggling are the uprisings in the Middle-east and Climate change. One is a political development and the other is the man’s untrammeled greed. This essay would treat the recent happenings in the Middle-East, the causes that started it, and how it swept the entire region. Political commentators are already comparing it to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Towards the end of the article, I wish to share my sadness and concern at the rate the planet is plummeting caused entirely to our lifestyle and mindless despoliation.
I only knew that this region gave us oil that runs our cars; including ships and flights. This is a region where monarchs have ruled the people for decades, authoritarian regimes, extreme religious practices with secret police, women under the veil, and a lot of whispers of human rights. The oil money has made most of the Arab countries extremely rich but personal liberty and rights of an individual citizen were much curtailed.
But not until the uprising started in Tunisia in January this year and the entire region has been in flux. What stroke it was innocuous: Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit vendor, in a small Tunisian rural one–hick town, lived in a narrow dusty street in a sparse three-room house. They were so poor and so ordinary that his mother hung the laundry on the patio. They were poor and living a hand to mouth existence. Mr. Bouazizi was 26, and his earnings as a fruit vendor earned just about enough to support his large family.
That’s when a high-handed inspector got into a tangle with Bouazizi. She confiscated the fruit stall; molested him as he resisted by slapping him. His shop may have been legal or illegal, maybe he had no right to set up shop at that place but it turned out to be the last straw for the vendor as he set fire to himself before the governor’s building demanding justice. His act mobilized thousands and within a month of the incident, government was toppled and forced to flee given the uprising.
Soon the rebellion of Tunisia spread to Egypt where its President was forced to resign. Tahrir Square in Cairo became a new hot spot of democracy as ordinary citizens flocked to it in millions demanding freedom and a right to choose their own government through polls.
The revolutions spread to other countries like a spark of fire on a dry forest. The other authoritarian regimes in the region faced the brunt of people’s ire. Libya is in turmoil has Col Gaddafi, who has been at the helm nearly four decades, refused to budge and there is a NATO force pounding the country to defend civilians from the slaughter. Bahrain, a tiny state, has caught this democracy virus. Then Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Oman. It is amazing how a little incident in Tunisia has engulfed the entire Middle-East. It seems that people were tired of corrupt dictatorial regimes. High unemployment rates, police brutality, rampant corruption, poverty, high-handed laws turned this people against their government and wanting a better way of life.
Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter were the tools used by the protestors co-ordinating their protests and marches. If democracy is being won by the Arabs, they sure will thank these tools.
Senator John Kerry, a senior US Senator, observed, “These uprisings constitute one of the most momentous developments of our time.” The man of the street no longer wants to be bullied into submission but they want to determine for themselves the government of the day. John Kerry contrasted the mood to the fall of the Berlin Wall and how United States supported transitions in Eastern Europe. No longer could America turn a blind eye to the despots for lure of stability and oil pricing. Suddenly words like “democracy”, “transparency”, “human-rights”, “elections”, and “justice” are the voices that have sprung in the region.
William Burns, Under Secretary of Political Affairs in the Obama Cabinet, opined, “Political systems and leaderships that fail to respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people become more brittle, not more stable. Popular pressures to realize universal values will take different shapes in different societies, but no society is immune from them.”
I personally find the news of the last five months exciting; to see the power of the people as they demand for better governance. The Arabs are the last to join the democracy bandwagon and it is heart-warming to see images of women and children protesting the dark ages their country rulers have imposed on them. How this will impact oil prices is another uncertainty or whether the new regimes can curtain terrorist in their regions. Sure, these are exciting developments and history unfolding before my eyes.
Scientists have confirmed that during the last 100 years, the world’s surface air temperature increased an average of 0.6° Celsius. We seeing the damage to environment unfold before our eyes: there have been too many storms and cyclones in the Florida coast, Katrina ripped Orleans recently, sea levels continue to rise, polar ice caps melt faster, droughts, unseasonal weather, drought, and so many evils that confront us square on the face. I feel passionate on this issue and would involve myself in a social body that puts pressure on the government to adhere to emission standards and raise public awareness.
Kareem Fahim. “Slap to a Man’s Pride Set off Tumult in Tunisia”. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/world/africa/22sidi.html. 21 January 2011. Web. 8 June 2011.
Naureen. “The POMED wire”. Project on Middle-East Democracy. http://pomed.org/blog/2011/03/pomed-notes-popular-uprisings-in-the-middle-east-the-implications-for-u-s-policy.html/. 18 March 2011. Web. 8 June 2011.
Editorial. “The Long Awaited new”. The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/opinion/03tue1.html. 2 May 2011. Web. 8 June 2011.
“Effects of Climate Change today” .http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/climate/cli_effects.html. 2 May 2011. Web. 8 June 2011.