Editor's Note:I am aware that all of the links below are from one news source. I must plead laziness and my inability to gauge my small readership's reactions to using news sources like Al-Jazeera. Nonetheless, the links are good topical starting points from which you can search for coverage in other media.
I am in no way advocating violence, rioting, or looting. However, if you have not been able to keep up with the news lately, big things are afoot in several parts of the world right now. Of course, the events garnering the most media coverage are the mass protests in Tunisia (which resulted in the abdication of a president and subsequent governmental collapse/reshuffling) and Egypt (the results of which are still to be determined).
Before those events, things were already heating up in Lebanon with the collapse of the unity government and angry protests in the street after Hezbollah legally forced the ouster of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former premier Rafik Hariri. In addition to Egypt, the Tunisia protests have also had a milder ripple effect in Yemen and Jordan.
As I said, big things are afoot. Again making a disclaimer that I do not support violent protests, I want to publicly confess that the recent events stir a certain amount of enthusiasm in me. Why?
Because change can happen.
Change is happening.
While I am immensely grateful for the freedom of speech that allows me to keep this blog and express any opinion that I want, I at the same time get tired of how much us Americans confine ourselves to whining in the ethereal world of the internet. We use our Facebook status updates to complain about what we see as faulty legislation. Many of these people are using Facebook to compel thousands of people to hit the streets in protest.
There seems to be a wide gap in our usage between the words "social" and "media". We don't mind the media part, giving our own views a venue or letting our media personalities carry the "conversation" (ha!) forward. But what about the social part? The actual mobilization of people to come together to do something in society? Why are Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart organizing our political rallies?
Again, I do not overlook the fact that Americans have the right to exercise their freedom of speech. Where I currently live, it is impossible to access this blog without using certain software, and none of my friends here have heard the faintest inkling about what is going on in Tunisia and Egypt. I am very grateful for our right to assemble and exercise free speech.
In fact, that's my point. Let's use those rights! Do you know how much we could accomplish if we spent half as much time getting to know our neighbors and brainstorming ways to make grassroots changes as we did listening to political commentators or watching "Jersey Shore"?
And in case you are hesitant to embrace such activist enthusiasm because of the tinge of violence in most of the above reports, please take note that the media has given much less coverage to what appears to be the largely peaceful dawning of a new age for the people of Sudan.
Hope is founded on the potential for change. It's time that we tapped that potential.