We live in interesting times. Wasn’t that once a curse? Events through North Africa and into the Middle East echo the stunning scenes as the Berlin Wall came down, taking with it the former Soviet Bloc.
I don’t mean this to sound facetious, but the apparent role of social media in some of what we are reading about, and seeing on TV, maybe suggests that we don’t need costly invasions, just supply a bunch of smart phones and let Twitter and Facebook take over. Sure there will probably still be deaths, for every revolution needs martyrs but there may be less than riding into town with guns and missiles blazing courtesy of an invasion force.
The technological revolution has changed the world so much. As a gawky teenager I watched a moon that had men walking on it whilst also being able to talk to people who had been born before the first powered flight. My parents generation had fought a war at a time when weaponry moved from barely adequate ballistics to the atom bomb in less than 6 years and yet it is getting on for 20 years since US war planes were taking off a few miles from where I live to launch SCUD missiles in anger.
In the early 80’s I began programming computers that I never saw and would have taken up most of my kitchen, but had less computing power that the mobile phone that now sits alongside me. I had to run programmes using less memory that I need to accommodate this sentence on my laptop.
Yes the times are a changing.
We have enjoyed the fact that some parts of the world are apparently at peace when the fact is that there may be quiet, but it comes at the cost of what we would regard as repression. I think that we need to take a breath before we judge others. Why are we right and they wrong? Our world and what we take for granted is as alien to some people as our lives are to them. We readily criticise now the Imperialism of earlier centuries, yet was that not also an effort to impose our ways on others? If that was wrong what gives us the right to repeat the exercise now? If other groups of people have a desire to kill each other, where do we draw the line between intervention and inteference?
This is not a defence of cruel dictators or corrupt regimes. I applaud those who rise up and depose them, but only as long as they can provide a better alternative, otherwise they have just shed the blood of those who have died in vain. How much more blood has been shed in countries around the world after they have rid themselves of the resident despot? Sorry, but life is not easy and things are not as clear cut as we would like them to be when we sit in our comfortable worlds in what we like to think of as civilised countries.
My thoughts are with those who are protesting with hope for a better world in their hearts. I hope that they succeed in their dreams and that their success comes without blood and tears being spilled, or at least as little as possible. It also goes out to the people of New Zealand who have seen Mother Nature rise up against them. Life ain’t easy; it’s a privilege, so let’s not waste it. Times are too interesting to miss.