For the past three months the Arab world has been undergoing a revolution but not many know how it all began. It started in Tunisia with the overthrow of Dictator Ben Ali but what event started it all. Mohamed Bouazizi, a young fruit vendor killed himself by self-immolation out of despair, humiliation and utter defeat at the hands of a corrupt regime.
His actions and the outrage that followed have given millions of Arabs living in the dictatorships of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain the courage to rise up, throw off their chains of oppression and attempt to re-forge their societies. It is most unfortunate that if they are successful any remade societies will most likely be as brutal as, or even more tyrannical than the ones they have overthrown. The Muslim Brotherhood seems poised to take over Egypt and it has recently been revealed that the leader of the Libyan Rebels is al Qaeda and that he has many al-Qaeda members fighting beside him. This revelation alone should be reason enough for Canada and the rest of the United Nations coalition to withdraw from the conflict but that doesn’t seem likely.
The horrific end of Mohamed Bouazizi and the ensuing revolts have begged the question what choices does a good man have when faced with living in a repressive despotic country? I believe the choices he has are limited to four:
1. He can leave the country if possible as millions from the Arab world have done. Many settling in the West bringing with them the inevitable clash of cultures and ideologies which we all must deal with and overcome.
2. He can stay and fight. Going underground so-to-speak much like the resistors of Vichy France did in World War II.
3. If fleeing or fighting are not options then a good man may find living under such circumstances unbearable and end his life as Mohamed Bouazizi did. The same end has befallen many in the fictional world as well, such as Andrei in Ayn Rand’s We the Living, or the protagonist in the film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s, Harrison Bergeron, or the book lady in Fahrenheit 451.
4. He can stay and become part of the problem. He can go about his daily life chanting the slogans of the government, buying into their lies and evasions of reality and hope that they will leave him alone. When the tax collector comes he pays in order to live another day. Perhaps somewhere deep in the recesses of his mind he says to himself “I despise these conditions, but what can I do? I am only one person and I have myself and my family to feed and must go along with the majority or else risk jail or death.
The people who stay, who don’t fight, and who choose to live, do so as slaves. They are experience a living death. They go about their daily routine as would lesser animals that sleep, eat, defecate, procreate and then die. There is no passion for living; there is no joy, no love, no happiness, no productivity, and no creativity. They are forbidden these things by their masters and as a consequence have actually chosen a slower form of suicide than did Mohamed Bouazizi.
Ask yourself the question, if subjected to the repressive regimes of a Ben-Ali, a Hitler or the House of Saud, what would you do? I would suggest you come up with an answer to the question because if history has shown us anything it is that freedom is a new and fleeting concept and sooner or later we here in the West may have to act on the answer we give to such a question.
(Broadcast on Just Right, Show #193, March 31, 2011.)