People Power Revisited

We have seen it coming long before this domino visiting many countries in the Middle East.

And it will not stop in that region: it will visit other lands that have had history of deprivation and denial of the fundamental rights of peoples.

This social convulsion will change the face of the unruly world of unruly rulers wherever they are found.

The Philippines has had two, and we have forgotten, how, in the cusp of people’s rage, destructive and creative at the same time, and driven by the eternal need for freedom, justice, and respect for human rights, the mightiest of the rulers unable to hear the pained anger of brutalized people can meet their rule’s end almost instantly.

And in shame.

There are always two instruments and tactics available: either to remain brutal or to hear, for the final time, the stones crying out.

China had a crackdown, and at the dawn of its democratic reform from its repressive communist rule, thousands of students, many of them their most brilliant and thus, its potential leaders and visionaries, shed their blood on Tiananmen, the square of idealized revolutionary cry eventually becoming the altar of sacrifice.

We learn—or at least some countries do.

We learn—or at least some rulers do.

But many do not, and so the frenzied rule of unstable rulers with their unstable ideas about what makes their nation and country continues, the rights of their people trampled upon, the masks of their atrocities reinforced with the public relations campaign of benevolence and kindness and staged social equality.

But many do not, and so make everyone believe that their years of misrule are the best years of the life of their own people, with that penchant for a calculated passing on of power to family members, some of them not better than their despotic parents.

Today, the world has changed.

Today, the people have seen other ways of living the life that honors their humanity.

Today, the people have seen that they can no longer be muted and silenced and muffled forever, and that, in the deepest of the night, in the darkness of the hours of fear, that voice that cries out for freedom and democracy must come out into the open and finally blurted out for all other people to hear, for all our societies to hear, for all other countries to hear.

Egypt it was. And then Tunisia. And now Libya. Among these three countries, are almost one hundred of oppression and misrule, of masquerade and tyranny, and of untold atrocities and brutalities.

Among these countries is almost a century of misguided priorities, and deprivation and wretchedness never seen since the days of conquest and colonization.

We cannot justify these acts that can only tell us of what we have done to humanity.

We cannot give reason to any form of wretchedness when rulers are enjoying the perks and pelf of power.

Desperate, that young man who doused himself with gasoline and then set himself on fire before the public galvanized the Tunisians and made them realize that we cannot have resorts for tourists who can pay in dollars and euros and yet so many people cannot even come close to these resorts for pampered tourists.

No, we cannot have two kinds of citizens in any country.

No, we cannot have two kinds of people in a homeland.

No, we cannot have two rights in a nation: the rights reserved for those who are in power and the rights, crumbs as they are, given in mercy to those who are powerless.

No, we cannot have two privileges in any nation-state that has self-respect and that makes it as its commitment a fundamental respect for its own people.

Social injustice everywhere is social injustice everywhere.

We know social injustice when we see one—and all rulers of the world must take notice of what people can with the power they have in their hands.

This is what democracy is all about. And no less.

FAO/ Mar 2011

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