Monday, February 21, 2011

Springtime for Gaddafi

It's just a regular day around here,  sunny, warm, quiet, waiting for the latest dictator to flee his country...

With the unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa, I glimpse news spots of arm waving, flag bearing, fist pumping anger and crowds being herded back by tanks or other military. It reminds me of the late 1960s, with the Democratic convention riots, Watts riots, Vietnam War protests. Every night it seemed, there were new assassinations, new violence, new changes brought about by force. I was five to eight years old then but as my parents watched the nightly news, I saw these things on the television as I walked by. They were indelible images entering my brain, images with no context or ability to cognitively understand, given my youth. I only saw. It seemed to my young mind was that everything was going wrong and tumbling down.

That's how it seems now except this time I do have a context and an ability to understand. My generation has seen the most cultural change of any generation, I believe. From my earliest youth, the hippies, the drug culture, the gay culture, the war culture has all changed, and fast. And now the Middle East is undergoing rapid change and it is happening even even faster than within a generation. I can't conceive of what it must be like to live under a dictator all your life but then see the back of him as he flees on a jet to another country. All we can do on this side of the world is watch.

I'll go back to thoughts of my own sphere, the nice weather, what I will decide to do today on my day off, what to eat for lunch. I may go in to Athens and see the late matinee of The King's Speech. I love British period pieces, and even better when they are based on the real thing. I may throw in a trip to the thrift store and pick up some short sleeved shirts since the nice weather is soon to stay. All I know is, I'm happy to live in the USA where the riots and unrest of 1968 fomented change but wasn't long-lastingly violent, and happy that I do not live under a brutal dictator who oppresses me at every turn. Today, all I have to decide to do is what to eat and where to shop, not whether to move out of the way of the tank and live, or stay put and die for my principles.

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