Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mad World

I feel their sense of urgency. And I'm hopeful for their success in achieving self determination as a society. The people deciding who represents them. It's not so much about the who's the best leader for the Islamic Republic of Iran. It's about respect for the process, the structure of the civil society itself. Mousavi is symbol now. I don't think we'll ever come to know what kind of leader he would be. But these protests do show that the people were seeking an alternative to Ahmadinejad, a leader that could be a vehicle for reform within their society. And the system failed them.

Remember 1989? There's a weird symmetry in history. Deja vu all over again. I remember feeling the same desperate sense of urgency and hope and dread for the students in Tiananmen Square in June 1989. I was a tween then, but I understood the longing of an oppressed people challenging the system. Later when we started high school that same year, two German tourists spoke to my world history class and talked about the shifts they were feeling then in their own country. I asked them a question that I felt in bones. I asked them if they thought the Wall would come down. I still remember his facel, and he said, 'I hope so. I sure hope so.' It could not have been more than two weeks later and the unthinkable happened. I remember Jeremy running to class the next morning saying to me, 'Syreeta! How'd you do that? How'd you know? You called it!'

All I can say is that people dream in a common language. If you heard those German tourists in my history class in 1989, you could feel the urgency for change. And I don't think it's a stretch that young Germans felt a kinship with the students in Tiananmen Square. In the wake of that tragedy, they might have found their courage to challenge the old order in their nation.

The poignant part of the President's Cairo speech two weeks ago sort of reads now as a prophetic allusion to events that are now manifesting. Pundits have found fault with the connection with Civil Rights Movement and resistance movements -fringe to moderate- of some Arab communities to regimes. I felt that it struck a very raw nerve. Something that we all had to acknowledge. African Americans learned from the Indian struggle against British rule during the first half of the twentieth century. In 1947, India became a sovereign nation again. Our own history shows how civil disobedience can affect change. It ended injustices my forebearers suffered through. It gave me the right to vote without fear. It seems clear to me now that the Iranian kids heard him. Still, Obama can't engage them directly. That's not his purpose at this time. A statesman engages governments. This is a populist movement. And all we can do is watch, support, and hope that human rights are respected.

My color scheme is green so that they know that I'm with them.

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