The Domino Effect 2011
The New Year, 2011 was ushered in by a revolutionary wave, a “domino effect,” of democratic uprisings against the generations-old iron rule of dictators in the Middle East. Many point to the power of facebook and the internet in driving these popular movements. They were useful tools, but more important, they are a measure of the consciousness of the new generation that has a global perspective, is idealistic, who communicates widely to share ideas, hope, friendship and creativity, and who are dedicated to one humanity occupying an egalitarian and healthy planet.
In contrast, during the cold war, post-colonial world of the 1960’s, the “domino effect” was synonymous with fear of the “red menace,” the creeping spread of Communist ideology attaching itself to nationalist movements of newly independent countries, and serving the expansionist ideologies of the Soviet Union and Red China.
Consequently, the power of this fear even gave justification to John F. Kennedy, a president known for promoting humanitarian service, for involving the US in the Vietnam War. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, George W. Bush used similar justification in waging pre-emptive wars, but this time it was fear of the domino effect of spreading Islamic terrorism.
This newest wave of peaceful democratic revolution started in Tunisia, but we have not seen the end of it. What is remarkable in the Egyptian example of this movement is its steadfast clarity of goals, inclusiveness and peacefulness. They show this in their spontaneous organization, care for citizens, care for the treasures of their country, and respect for their diversity as co-citizens. Violence started only as a result of the forces against peaceful change provoking chaos and fighting to give reason for more strong-handed repression by the ruling class. One protester stated that “Truth” never wants to destroy or cause harm.
I believe this will become the “domino effect” of the new era in the developing world. This spirit, which is driving people from many backgrounds to unite in their quest for democracy, may serve as a challenge to their peers in the developed world. Many young people, especially in the so-called "democracies" sleep under the blankets of material complacency, fear, and a leadership that “divides and conquers.” This undermines trust, promotes self-centeredness and apathy, and discourages initiatives to make needed changes to solve our social problems. It has allowed corporations and those who control the economy to control events largely unchallenged.
As the last vestiges of “might makes right” rulership dies through current popular uprisings that are earning the respect and admiration of the world, will the comfortable world take note of their own insidious enslavement? So far, budding sentiments for change have been distorted and manipulated by political tricksters, and co-opted by corporate marketing. Although people in developed countries will use different methods to awaken and become part of the “domino effect,” they will need to be equally passionate and steadfast as their counterparts in the developing world about making the sacrifices that usher in positive and necessary changes.
Scenes from Tahrir Square in previous weeks were reminiscent of the streets of Selma, Alabama in the 1960’s during the American civil rights movement where peaceful demonstrators were met with violence by pro-government thugs. However, a violent response has proved useless against the contagious momentum of those seeking freedom. Many demonstrators said that they felt free for the first time and would rather die than lose that. The “domino effect” of democracy may become the civil rights movement of the twenty-first century if it moves through other developing nations living under repressive regimes, and moves people in developed countries who are satisfied with their own material comfort to demand a society that is fair and just for all.