and with respect, Insha'Allah

May you live in interesting times.

This traditional curse from China has been much on my mind this week, as these are certainly interesting times. One could even say "revolutionary"...

Across north Africa and the Middle East, dominoes are falling fast as hundreds of thousands of young, literate, tech-savvy people are bringing down regimes that have been rotting away for decades.


It all began with one man's desperate, passionate act of protest by a young fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.

He had been working since he was 10 years old, struggling to help his family and had earned a reputation as a good man. Too poor to be able to bribe local officials, he was often harrassed and
humiliated by them.

On December 17th last year, following an incident where the scales he used to sell fruit from his cart were confiscated as officials insulted and physically abused him, he tried to take his problem to the office of the governor.

When the governor refused to see him or listen
to his grievances, he left and returned an hour later with a can of gasoline. Standing in front of a government building, he poured the gasoline
over himself and set himself alight.

When he died on January 4th, Mohamed Bouazizi was 27 years old.


The first protest was held that afternoon, in front
of that government building. Each day there was another, and another until the day he died.

The news of his passing drew more and more angry people into the streets until January 14th, when the president and his family boarded a plane and left the country.

Ten days of rage had ended 23 years of brutal, corrupt dictatorship.


It's strange how less than two months later this already seems like old news, part of what is now a much bigger history.

What began in a small town in a country most people couldn't find on a map has already led to a level of regime change beyond anything Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld ever wet-dreamed of, or were able to buy with the last of America's discretionary billions.

Two governments have fallen and the wheel's still very much in spin- there may be more before the hard work of installing something better can really get underway.

Given the track record of the two despots disposed of to date, it would be hard to come up with anything worse.

Wisely is it written that the future is an unwritten book. No one has any idea of what the uprising of so many people across the Arab world will become in the months and years ahead.

After years of abusive rule, they are risking everything for the chance of better lives for their children. There is a profound nobility in their actions that is both inspiring and humbling.

There is room for hope, and good cause to be worried, for all kinds of reasons ranging from the spiritual to the humanitarian to the price of gas.

Good luck to them.

...and with respect, Insha'Allah.


What isn't strange is that no one seems to have seen this coming. Being blind-sided on a global level is becoming almost as common as weather 'events'.

We may dream of an "information age" and tune into one or more pundits preaching 24/7 about What's Really Going On , but the hits just keep on coming.

The current recession.
The economic disaster that started it. Enron.
The destruction of Iraq,
and the ongoing Fail in Afghanistan.
The uprisings across the Arab world.

None of these wise guys saw a damn thing coming. Clearly, there are troubling blind spots in their visioning.

Why is anybody listening to these suits any more? 

Why any of them still have jobs, let alone audiences?


Meanwhile, a world away in Wisconsin, another revolution born of blood and dreams may be coming to an end. The same dark forces that instigated most of the epic disasters listed above and then made out like bandits have decided that the Dairy State is where the American dream dies.

The New American Century is coming home.

- tbc -

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