Protests (AP image)The uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, are they similar to the uprising in the United States 250 years ago?  Perhaps, but we did it when people penned letters to each other and there were no 24-hour news networks with microphones, bright lights and pundits pressuring day after day for “what will happen next!!”  The Declaration of Independence took 17 days to write and just over a year for us to agree upon.  A year.  Then it took 11 years for us to adopt a brand new constitution.  Here we are almost 250 years after that spark and we’re still fighting, polarized with 180 degree different perspectives on life and how it should be lived.  How can we expect those nations to figure out their direction any sooner?  And yet, with the intense scrutiny of the media in this information age, how can they have the time to think through it thoughtfully and get the same buy-in that took us 11 years to accomplish?

Simply because people have a common enemy, doesn’t mean that they agree on anything else.

Breathe, people. Breathe. Give them time to find themselves.  They won’t achieve clarity or consensus any faster than your teen-aged child will figure out the rest of their life. How could they possibly?!


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13 Responses to “Your Patience (with the Arab World) Is a Virtue”

  1. Lee Jay Berman Says:

    From Greg Stone via Facebook:

    In what ways do you feel there are parallels between those uprisings and the American move into a Constitutional Republic?

    It would seem there already is an organization in those lands, and it is based upon an Islamic theocracy, which, when expanded, forms a new caliphate.

    Do you see any developments that might portend a different outcome?

    To the degree these uprisings were the product of hi tech media and social networking, including organization from external agents, do you think that puts different variables in play?

  2. Lee Jay Berman Says:

    Thanks Greg, The parallels seem obvious to me, people rising up and organizing to throw off oppressors and determine their own way.

    I’m not sure there’s one direction that’s predetermined in any of those countries. I think they’ll debate and arm wrestle and fight like our founding fathers did.

    As for different variables, that’s the point of my post – that those variables, including above all outside influences and living in a time with expectations of immediacy, are bringing to bear a time frame and demand that is simply impossible when they’re just finished rising up together. The trick is whether they can hold off a new regime taking charge until they are able to go through a healthy process of dialogue. Nature does abhor a vacuum. I’m an optimist, and I think that Doug Noll’s Elusive Peace tells us that there should be teams of trained mediators in there managing the dialogue and helping to keep outside influences out while shaping the discussion within.

  3. Lee Jay Berman Says:

    From Greg Stone via facebook:

    As a fellow optimist I can imagine paths that lead to a positive outcome, though it is difficult to imagine anything similar to the unique Constitutional government of the U.S.

    A challenge (set back) appears to have taken shape over the past couple months as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists have been seated as a 70% or greater majority in the government.

    The Islamists appear to be more organized and well-funded than the forces of civil society, the coalition of youth and women and the Christian minority.

    Thus, there is at least the threat that one oppressive government has been replaced by another equally oppressive one. (The violence toward the Christian minority, as well as saber rattling toward Israel, seems to foreshadow looming oppression.)

    I agree teams of trained mediators should try to engage in dialogue that opens new paths. The faith-based diplomacy work of Brian Cox with the Muslim Brotherhood fits within this scenario… but it is difficult to be more than cautiously optimistic.

    Earlier events with a parallel theme played out with Saint Francis when he befriended the Sultan during the Middle Ages. The key to his success was his faith-based approach in which Francis’ concern was with the Sultan’s salvation.

    The common bond that developed had to do with a shared eschatological optimism… they both looked to the world to come with a passion and vision not shared by others. Perhaps that is a lesson for our times. (?)

  4. Lee Jay Berman Says:

    Thanks Greg. The same thing worked in the Camp David Peace Accords, but required a mediator in Jimmy Carter to see the underlying interests where they had common goals for a peaceful future.

  5. Deborah Denson Says:

    Love your perspective… My nephew is a teacher in Cairo and he is getting to watch this unfold from the front row. We would need a much broader lens to get a complete picture, and as you suggest, the results are yet to be seen.

    I am thinking of the word alchemy and trusting the process for Egypt.
    Deborah Denson

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