Impatience and Unrest


Wow, the violence and demonstrations and civil unrest of the Muslim world right now, amirite?

Protests bigger than those that overthrew Mubarak at Tahrir Square in January of 2011 are happening as we speak, calling for the elected replacement Morsi. That Egypt, can’t get its shit together – so backwards, with religion overriding common sense. And man, even Tunisia elected an Islamist leader after their igniting revolt, and they haven’t fully settled down like the quiet suburbs outside of Indianapolis. Syria? That shit’s still going. Turkey has had mass protests lately too. What is going on there?

A lot is. There is a lot of change and unrest in the Near and Middle East and major things are happening. In our present, able to read about it or watch it in nearly real time through the same modern conveniences that give us too much time to talk about it, this looks like chaos and disorder and a whole chunk of the world is going to burn itself to the ground.

But consider a few things here.

Go to the Wikipedia page of any day of the year and you will find an openly curated list of things that happened on that day. Look at what’s there in American events between the years of 1774 and 1783. Or 1861-1865. See anything French from 1789 to 1799? There is usually a highly concentrated list of events included from 1939-1945. These are major historical periods, volatilities abound, when protests and violence were frequent as a part of drastic social change. They also happen to be very popular subjects of both professional and amateur historians, so Wikipedia (particularly in English) is going to be heavily biased towards marking these events. If Wikipedia, or something like it, exists decades from now in Arabic it is going to weigh heavily to the span of the past two or three years to however many years to come because this is when their major social change is happening.

Also, make some demographic considerations. Even the lowest brow of journalistic commentary includes information on the weight of the young population in these areas, as possibly the source of such powerful momentum (or the high numbers more easily brainwashed, depending on your angle). And the reason there are so many young people is because of how much the world’s human count ballooned over the past few decades, particularly in these parts of the world. Give some credit to the progress of the status of women in these countries, even if you like to paint Islamic countries in oppressive colours – they are more educated than they ever have been and delaying childbearing long enough to be part of this movement.

This isn’t the End of Days. The world is not going to be destroyed from Cairo or Istanbul or Damascus. Periods of history just as densely populated with significant events have even arguably led to greater prosperity (for the winners, at least) or have at least been recovered from in due time, to a net gain for most. Things need time. If you, isolated from these places via oceans and computer screens, want to tell these people “You’re not doing democracy right” I’m going to put my index finger over your lips and gently whisper to you “Shhhh…[pause]ut the fuck up.” There’s no right way of social change.


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