Paul J. Mills, Tiffany Barsotti, Meredith A. Pung, Kathleen L. Wilson, Laura Redwine, and Deepak Chopra Gratitude, along with love, compassion, empathy, joy, forgiveness, and self-knowledge, is a vital attribute of our wellbeing. While there are many definitions of gratitude, at its foundation, gratitude is a healing, life-affirming, and uplifting human experience that shifts us […]
When history decides to shift, people are always looking in the wrong direction. That’s what makes so-called tipping points so unsettling — the experts miss them so often. In the case of Egypt, nobody expected peaceful popular uprisings to topple Mubarak. The Arab world was focused on the dangers of Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda or Israel. It was taken for granted that the repressive regimes of the Arab world were here to stay, backed by the military, secret police, and powerful friends on the side like the United States.
The day after a tipping point is always full of danger. Post-Soviet Russia lost an empire, witnessed the rise of mobsters and oligarchs, spun into widespread corruption, and eventually defaulted on the ruble. Freedom came at the price of unleashing forces that an authoritarian system had kept under control, or at least under wraps. Egypt has reached its “Now what?” moment, and if the experts are right, the real issue isn’t the departure of a dictator who outstayed his welcome but of democracy being stifled by the military powers that hold sway almost totally. Much the same structure is in place throughout the Muslim world, with its blend of royal families, oil oligarchs, anti-Israel demagogues, inflammatory clerics, and a booming birth rate.
Clearly such a reversal isn’t in the interests of the military or the ruling elites in the Middle East, because their greatest fear is the rise of the populations they suppress in order to remain in power. The status quo benefits the few, but it’s the few who hold the reins of every institution except the mosque. India prided itself, as it still does, on being the world’s largest (and messiest) democracy. So it would seem that before history can truly move ahead in the Arab world, the rise of the dispossessed must be allowed to occur, and that cannot happen without democracy. Despite their huge problems, Arab countries need to exist for the people. “Now what?” doesn’t have a simple answer, but the immediate need couldn’t be more clear.
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