This week started for me with a huge event in my family’s life – after six years of study, my wife was ordained with a rabbi, and our family celebrated with her in Colorado. It ended joyfully as well, as I watched in awe as Tunisians took to the streets and kicked out a widely despised dictator. I’ve had the honor to work with Sami ben Gharbia, a passionate Tunisian activist, for the past five years, and I’m excited for him, for all my other Tunisian friends, and for everyone brave enough to take to the streets and demand change.
This was going to be the week I stopped writing about what was going on in the world and focused on longer writing projects, but it was simply too exciting to watch history unfold without weighing in. I’ve offered some reactions on the events in Tunisia and the role of social media in a post for Foreign Policy.
The punchline of that post: assuming the events in Tunisia end up with a transfer of power, and (we all hope) a democratic and fair election, you’re going to hear any number of theories crediting Tunisia’s revolution to Twitter, to Wikileaks, to Anonymous and so on. Be skeptical. A shift this momentous doesn’t come from a single factor – it comes from millions of people, frustrated and pissed off, who find ways to come together and demand change. Oversimplified explanations do a disservice to the bravery of the people who risked – and in many cases, lost – their lives to take to the streets, and disrespect the people who’ve worked for decades for change in their country.
I hope Tunisia finds its way from overthrowing a dictator to building a stable, democratic government. I hope Sami can go home for the first time in many years. I hope people find inspiration in the actions of the Tunisian people and understand that change – real change – doesn’t come just from a new technology or leaked information, but from blood, tears, bravery and struggle.