The Power of One

It’s been 10 days since the astounding ouster of President Mubarak. Many Egyptians who adopted Tahrir Square as their makeshift home embodied the dignity and resolve that epitomizes human potential. As they abandoned fear and committed their lives to democracy, freedom rang in the streets of Cairo.

Their ripples of hope became a wave to wash Mubarak from banks of the Nile, a peaceful but forceful tsunami overflowing the shores of the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas.

Every day, our screens are filled with images of thousands of youths whose courage evokes great spiritual leaders. They recall Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent movement for India’s freedom and Martin Luther King’s rallies for a united America. These heroes of humanity set remarkable examples, as may be true of the current demonstrators in the Middle East, whose goals may take years to fully achieve.

Still, these movements have unprecedented speed and impact. Middle Eastern youths are re-branding their region from violent terrorism to peaceful activism. They have achieved the near forgotten prophecy of technology to lift up humanity. And they have created the incredible phenomenon of rolling revolutions as individuals become fully empowered.

The vibrant energy of the Arab states recalls the campaign and inauguration that transformed D.C. two years ago. But these Middle Eastern movements, which represent the overthrow of systems rather than the unlikely outcome of one, may be a more powerful inspiration.

They remind us that vast and growing inequality has tangible consequences. In America, the wealthy bask in greater luxury while the poor struggle for food and shelter and the middle class lose rights and income. Workers, galvanized by a plan to end to collective bargaining for most Wisconsin public employees, are taking to statehouses around the country in an unprecedented statement of solidarity.

They remind Washingtonians that demands for fair representation can be taken from the back of our cars to the front of the Capitol.

They remind us that more important than the clothes or houses we live in are the ideals we live by. That the hunger for opportunity, justice, and democracy is universal. And according time to struggle for these cherished ideals, despite daily demands, is to seize the chance to write history.

They show us the power of one and the importance of living life by example. To many in the Middle East, the difference between democratic leadership creating broad economic opportunity and the status quo was the contrast between virtual slavery and exalted freedom. And they won it after one person rose up fearlessly, then another, then another, and many more.

Individually, it is important to champion causes with the power to transform our communities, be it healthy and affordable food, safe and effective schools, greater equality or sustainable industries.

By singly living out our values we can, together, create a brighter future for our country.


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