Sometimes it’s hard to believe i can make a positive difference in the world. That’s reserved for ambitious, famous people — politicians and dedicated activists and heroes/villains of various stripe — who are in the news and have dedicated their lives change, for good or ill.
And yet i came across a post in Umair Haque’s fiery, iconoclastic blog Eidaimonics, a post called Metamovement about the movement that before our eyes seems to be going viral around much of the world (see, for example, OccupyWallSt.org or OccupyVacouver.com or OccupyVictoria.ca, etc. etc.).
Says Mr. Haque:
Where did this virus erupt? The simplest answer is: in Sidi Bouzid, [Tunisia,] where Mohammed Bouazizi set himself alight, in protest. What sent Bouazizi over the edge of sanity — or perhaps into the arms of a kind of hyperrational embrace of a singular act of revolt?
“…He was 23 and had left school early because his widowed mother couldn’t afford to keep him there. On 17 December Mr Bouazizi’s vegetable cart was confiscated by the town council which said he didn’t have permission to trade. When he tried to get the cart back a woman from the council slapped him in the face.”
Mr. Bouazizi, who died of his burns, was no icy, brave hero with newsworthy ambitions. He was an angry, confused young man pushed by systematic bureaucratic indifference into a desperate act, with no inkling whatsoever that his private protest would trigger the Tunisian revolution, which would spread like a grassfire into an Arab Spring, thence to flashpoints around the earth.
Haque again: And make no mistake — this is revolt; insurrection against a monstrous, barbaric status quo that’s failed too many, too deserving, for too long — while serving too few, too undeserving, far too well.
It reminds me that the world seems to be growing ever tauter, ever more interlinked, ever more involved with tipping points and invisible connections and butterflies flapping their wings in Brazil setting off tornadoes in Texas. We can never know what effect we might have. In the present moment our actions are always of grave import, and we should conduct ourselves accordingly.